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Bass Pro Shops: "the world's greatest sporting goods store."

Bass Pro Shops

Any time that a sportsman finds himself driving through the "Show Me" state he should consider a visit to the sprawling Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World national headquarters showroom, even though his travel isn't necessarily taking him any where near Springfield, Missouri. In fact, many vacationers from all 50 states are now beginning to plan their annual family outing around a visit to this `super outdoor sports' complex, with nearly 3 million visitors going through the Outdoor World showroom doors in 1988 alone. Followers of the seasonal Bass Pro Shops sale catalogs surely noticed the company's growing move into hunting related goods during the early 1980s, especially in the fall and spring issues. But, it was just four or five years ago that Bass Pro Shops made its big surge into the hunting field. The Outdoor World showroom was just beginning to build a reputation for being the "Sportsman's Disneyland," where the outdoorsman could find anything and everything for his favorite outdoor sports, whether he fished, camped, boated, hunted, or enjoyed one form or another of recreational shooting. However, with a name like "Bass Pro Shops," the company realized there would very likely be an identity problem and immediately began looking at ways to establish a reputation for being a whole lot more than fishing tackle.

In late winter of 1987, Bass Pro Shops' marketing masterminds went to work, and came up with an in-store show promotion the likes of which the shooting and hunting industry had never seen before. The seed for Bass Pro Shops first "Fall Hunting Classic" had been planted.

The goal was to stage an event that was something of a "mini" SHOT Show especially for Bass Pro Shops customers. The huge boat showroom inside the amazing 150,000 square foot showroom was cleared of Bass Tracker fishing boats and Sun Tracker pontoon boats and a floor plan was devised that allowed room for approximately 100 of Bass Pro Shops' hunting related vendors to display their wares, especially those products offered through the company's mail-order catalogs and showroom.

The purchasing and promotions department at Bass Pro Shops then went to work to bring in a great lineup of hunting and shooting experts to present a practically non-stop schedule of seminars. Names like Grits Gresham, Noel Feather, Tink Nathan, and Ben Rogers Lee were on hand for presentations on everything from rattling and calling whitetails, to the complete turkey hunter. Hunters filled the big 250 seat Outdoor World auditorium for practically every seminar.

Of course, the idea behind the Fall Hunting Classic was to move merchandise. And, move merchandise it did! For four full days, more than 60,000 hunters and shooters converged on Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World showroom for the Fall Hunting Clasic. Bass Pro Shops had purchased huge quantities of "special purchase" items just for this show. These special buys were housed inside two spacious circus type tents that filled a portion of the parking lot, along with greatly reduced closeouts. The "sale" aspect of the show appealed to visitors and they literally drove away from the Fall Hunting Classic with pickup loads of decoys, ammo, clothing, calls, guns and all the other gear they would need for the upcoming seasons. It was this great combination of a money saving sales event and information filled show which made Bass Pro Shops' first Fall Hunting Classic a success, andhelped to establish the fact that the Bass Pro Shops was the "hunter's pro shop" as well.

Last year, the show was moved from the original dates of early October to late September in an attempt to capture more archery/bowhunting sales. The size of the 1988 Fall Hunting Classic was also increased to make room for nearly 140 vendors. The Outdoor World showroom is big, but it's not big enough to house this number of exhibitors and still leave room for the natural setting displays (which include a four-story waterfall and a trout stream that flows right through the center of the hunting department) and the thousands of visiting hunters and shooters expected to attend. To give vendors and customers alike more breathing room, Bass Pro Shops erected two big tent type temporary structures with sturdy aluminum truss-type frames directly in front of the showroom entrance, along with a huge seminar tent, a value packed "bargain" tent, and an exit tent to house more than adozen cash registers for quick and easy check out.

Each of the temporary structures provided room for nearly 50 vendors, while the Outdoor World boat showroom provided space for nearly another 50 exhibitors. The inside exhibits included displays by such organizations as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Buckmasters, the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association. World renowned whitetail expert Dick Idol was on hand with his impressive display of record class whitetail mounts, including the No. 2 World Record non-typical buck, the famous "Hole-In-The-Horn" buck. The Missouri Department of Conservation also displayed their World Record non-typical, giving visitors an opportunity to compare these two magnificent whitetails.

Once again, the Fall Hunting Classic staged a great lineup of seminars. Dick Idol appealed to the deer hunter with presentations on "Patterning Whitetails" and "Rattling and Calling Whitetail Bucks"; Ray Eye, Ben Rogers Lee and Brad Harris thoroughly covered fall turkey hunting, Jim Olt and "Cowboy" Fernandez presented several seminars on duck and goose calling; and astronaut Brigadier General Joe Engle talked about how space technology applied to today's hunter. There were other seminars on black powder hunting, bird dog training and conditioning, tuning the compound bow, and a variety of other hunting and hunting gear related topics. To handle the huge audience of enthusiastic customers, Bass Pro Shops had erected a big 500 seat tent, and for some presentations it was "standing room only!"

An outdoor archery and airgun range allowed interested customers an opportunity to actually test fire any model carried by Bass Pro Shops before making a buying decision. It also gave company representatives a chance to better point out features and performance of their products to inquiring shooters. The Outdoor World indoor rifle and handgun ranges were also kept packed for four days as customers couldn't wait to try out new rifles, handguns and muzzleloaders purchased during the Fall Hunting Classic. And, Bass Pro Shops' in-house gunsmiths mounted hundreds of scopes during the show, actually sighting in many on the lighted indoor 100 yard rifle tube.

This super outdoor sports complex also keeps an extensive stock of firearms on hand. Back stock and guns on display generally number well over 3,000, and range from the lowest priced .22s to exquisite engraved and inlayed limited edition models. And, the variety of ammunition, reloading tools, firearms accessories, black power shooting supplies and other hunting and shooting accessories is just as expansive.

Bass Pro Shops' Outdoor World showroom in Springfield, Missouri, lives up to its claim of being "The World's Greatest Sporting Goods Store." The Fall Hunting Classic is just one example of what this retailer is doing to establish a reputation for being a supplier to all outdoor sports.

Bass Pro Shops 1989 Fall Hunting Classic, held August 24, 25, 26 and 27, went off like clockwork, and sales wise was very likely the most successful of the three shows held to date. Bass Pro Shops decided to make the event more "sales" oriented this year, toning down the show angle considerably.

Once again, as many as 75,000 customers crowded the Outdoor World showroom complex for the four day event. What they found this year was a much larger and better selection of hunting gear, most of it sale priced at the lowest prices Bass Pro Shops' buying and sales force could muster. Many vendors cooperated in making the show the sales event of the year by providing huge amounts of closeout items, with markdowns as much as 75%. And, hunters took advantage of the great prices, pushing shopping cart after shopping cart filled with everything from camouflaged clothing to cases of shotshells out the front door.

Again, great seminars touched on a wide range of topics, presented by noted experts in each of the various fields, including Harold Knight on Canada goose hunting; Jim Crumley on proper use of camouflage; and world renowned whitetail expert Dick Idol on patterning deer. Up to ten seminars daily saw standing room only.

PHOTO : Approximately 100 manufacturers displayed their lines inside roomy tent-like temporary structures.

PHOTO : Outdoor archery and airgun ranges allowed customers to actually try out various models before buying.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bridges, Tony
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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