Bass Pro knows how to reel in shoppers. The company operates about 60 Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores in the US and Canada that sell boats, firearms, equipment, and apparel for most outdoor activities. Stores feature archery ranges, fish tanks, bowling lanes, billiards tables, and dining areas. Bass Pro also lures shoppers at home with its catalogs, online store, and TV and radio programs. Its first Outdoor World store (in Missouri) has been one of the state's biggest tourist attractions since it opened in 1981. Bass Pro owns Tracker Marine (boat manufacturing) and American Rod & Gun (sporting goods wholesale) and runs an 850-acre resort in the Ozark Mountains. Founder John Morris owns Bass Pro.
While other retailers have reported less foot traffic during and since the US recession, Bass Pro is experiencing the opposite. The company has attracted more than 100 million people to its stores in recent years -- some six times the number of visitors to Disney World. The reason for the increase, the company says, is that camping vacations and related outdoor activities have surged in popularity as people scaled back their spending. Capitalizing on the trend, Bass Pro launched a free summer camp program for children that teaches archery, bird-watching, fishing, and tent-pitching, among other outdoor basics. Sales of firearms, camping equipment, and fishing gear remain healthy for Bass Pro, but the retailer has had a hard time moving its own brand of boats.
To keep pace with the uptick in demand, the outdoor products merchant plans to open a handful of new stores in existing markets, including Florida, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Its catalog circulation also remains strong; each year Bass Pro mails some 150 million copies of its seasonal and specialty publications. – less