How Old-Time Values Are Blossoming In The Market Common
by Melissa LaScaleia
“I became involved with Orvis when my wife’s sister sent me an Ex-Officio bug-away hat,” says Larry Tyler, the Orvis store manager. “I found it to be intriguing.”
Curious, Larry went online to discover more about the hat’s origins, and discovered that the company who sold them was hiring in the Market Common. Attracted by what he read, he filled out an application.
This was in 2007, when the Market Common was still being built. He didn’t hear back for a year. When he did, he went in for an hour-long interview and was offered the job the next morning.
Larry jives with Orvis’ company values. He’s always been a self-admitted dog person, community person, and retail person— working in the latter industry for the past fifty years.
Larry was born and raised in Myrtle Beach. At sixteen, he went on the road playing the drums professionally, until he was 22.
After that, he went to work in retail at a place called Mack’s Five and Dime store, right in the heart of Myrtle Beach. His job before Orvis was Barnes & Noble.
“I’ve been a part of this community pretty much all my life,” he says. “I grew up here so I was raised with community values. I like that the Market Common perpetuates that— that it’s a community as well. When I took the job, I really liked that it was retail, mixed with community involvement, mixed with dog rescues. For me, rescuing dogs is one of my big passions.”
Since 2009, the company has raised 1 million dollars to support canine cancer research, and continues to match donations up to a certain dollar amount.
The Myrtle Beach Orvis store has also held fundraisers in the form of fancy evening parties and silent auctions, to support several non-profits. Two are South Carolina conservation groups: Coastal Conservation Group, and Waccamaw Wildlife.
The biggest event that Orvis hosted was a benefit for Casting for Recovery— a ladies breast cancer support group which offers free fly-fishing retreats for women at all stages of breast cancer.
It’s a chance for them to rejuvenate emotionally, mentally, and physically while finding companionship.
Orvis enlisted the aid of Mary Alice Monroe, a Charleston based author who attended as a key speaker for this fundraiser. The event drew a crowd of over 250 supporters.
In addition to being involved with the community, Orvis also asks their employees to find their own community involvement.
Larry initiated a partnership with the Georgetown St. Francis Animal Shelter, where he volunteers. Every year, workers from the shelter come to the store around the winter holidays and wrap presents for customers in exchange for a donation to the shelter.
They also bring those dogs that are available for adoption. So far, the holiday wrapping has netted $2,700 for the shelter, and 25 dogs have been adopted since Christmas. Since then, they’ve returned four times for different fundraising events.
“Orvis customers are dog-people big time,” Larry says.
Many are also passionate about fishing.
Larry eagerly shares a story with me that connects Orvis, fishing, and his birth.
Three years ago, he was browsing in a nearby thrift shop when he came across an Orvis split bamboo fishing rod and a creel (a woven basket to put the fish in) from the 1940s. He was drawn to the items, and asked the shopkeeper if he knew their origins. The rod, the owner explained, belonged to a certain lawyer who lived in town.
Larry recognized the man’s name as the son of the doctor who delivered him.
“When my mom was in labor,” Larry says, “they had to send somebody to fetch the doctor because he was gone fishing. There’s a chance he was out fly-fishing with that rod the day I was born. I bought it for $40.”
Orvis opened in the Market Common in 2008 at the height of the economic recession. People were not as free with their money, and business was relatively slow. Orvis began offering free ‘Fly-Fishing 101’ classes on Saturdays, in which instructors taught people the basics of fly-fishing at the store, and then casting at the big lake.
“Everyone had a ball, and it became a way for people who otherwise wouldn’t have tried fishing, to try it,” says Larry.
They’ve been doing the classes ever since, and they’re still free. They are held in the store every Saturday from April through June at 9am. Advanced registration is required to ensure there are enough instructors for the event.
The store itself is multifaceted in its offerings.
“We have everything from wrinkle-free shirts for men, all the way down to fishing pants,” Larry says. “And it’s the same for the ladies, everything from linen to dry-release, meaning water-wicking, casting shirts. There are also rods and reels and all the accessories that come with them.”
Then there is the pet department, the highlight of which is a memory foam bed for senior doggies, which offers relief for their aching joints.
“It’s for any dog really,” Larry says, “but the seniors love it. Your dog can try it out in the store, and so can the kids.”
Because Orvis loves pets, they keep water bowls and treats out for dogs.
Larry has four dogs and five cats, all rescues. In his spare time, he loves to sit with his dogs in his lush backyard garden, which he likens to a miniature version of Brookgreen Gardens. He also loves to take his wife out to dinner.
“I’m overjoyed to be working for a company that really believes in giving back to the community,” Larry says. “I can hardly walk around town without people stopping me to say, ‘Hey you’re Mr. Orvis.’
“We couldn’t have survived without the local community. And it’s a joy that part of my life is to give back to it. That’s just beyond believable.”
“I give my whole heart and thanks to everybody who supported us for the last nine years,” he adds, his voice thick with emotion.
Larry still has the hat that started it all.
“It’s a little worse for the wear, but it works great,” he says.
Open M-Sa 10am-6pm, Su noon-6pm. ‘Fly-fishing 101’ classes every Saturday until June at 9am. Advanced registration required.