My birthday was on December 24 and when asked by my husband what I’d like to do, I responded- “Go to Bass Pro Shops.” This naturally awarded me the title of coolest wife ever. And with 3 out of 5 in our family being hunters, I was close to being a hero. So the day before, we loaded up the kids and dogs in the motorhome and took the 3 hour drive to Manteca, CA to the new Bass Pro Shops Showroom. We gave the kids each some Christmas cash and shopped all day. Then we drove into town for dinner, slept in the BPS lot, woke up on my birthday and shopped some more!
I grew up in Springfield, Missouri- a town synonomous with Bass Pro Shops. Johnny Morris, began making fishing lures when he was younger and sold them out of his dad’s liquor store- (a place we all shopped- once we were of age), The Brown Derby. As his fishing tackle business grew, he opened up shop in a strip mall on Glenstone Ave. Soon enough it grew into the first massive Bass Pro Outdoor World Showroom. This was all happening at the beginning of my career, and I was an art director for an ad agency that did some of the ad work for BPS. I remember vividly going on the pre-opening tour of the showroom in the early 80s. They were still sculpting the faux rock walls and setting up the tanks for the fish. What? Live saltwater and freshwater fish swimming in a store? Yeah- it was that big of a deal. We still never miss a trip to the original store in Springfield whenever we’re back home. The kids love the on-site Wildlife Museum, and Jeff could spend 2 days straight playing in the fishing boats.
Bass Pro Shops is a very family friendly environment, there is really something for everyone, even me- I don’t fish or hunt. You’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s the ultimate lodge. The women’s department alone kept me busy for hours. The kids had a ball- especially the 44 year old one. There was a fun shooting range upstairs that the younger kids spent time at, but they had more fun plugging the blow-up reindeer with the suction-cup cross-bow arrows downstairs in the Santa display. And don’t get me started on the fudge shop, ok? Back home in Springfield, they have a fine dining restaurant as well as a McDonald’s right inside.
In Manteca BPS, we received free photos with Santa, even our dogs were allowed to shop with us and they too were in the Santa pics. But once home I realized I had taken way more photos of the fabulous store displays than I did my own family! Really, these displays were beyond cool. BPS does it right. One of the showroom personel and I were talking about them, he said that one day a crew came in from Springfield with all this vintage stuff and just started setting it all up- it was amazing. My measly photos don’t begin to do it justice, you’d have to experience it for yourself. But if you’ve taken the photo tour of my tiny studio, you’d understand how envious I was of all of those rustic parts cabinets. And with an obsession for antiques, well, it was difficult knowing these were only displays and not for sale.
Merchandise display once seriously interested me during my career path. BPS clearly has found the world’s finest designers for this. HERE is a great article I found regarding their store design and merchandising.
If you have a Bass Pro Shops anywhere near you, trust me, it’s worth the drive.