Bass Pro Shops CEO John Morris Greets Brevard Shoppers
By Matt O'Hern // December 5, 2013
Thousands Show Up for Opening Night
BREVARD COUNTY PALM BAY, FLORIDA — Surrounded by thousands of wide-eyed sportsmen from across the Space Coast, one of America’s most successful CEO’s blended in with the local patrons on Bass Pro Shop’s opening day crowd as well as the camouflage on the hunting attire.
As pro fishermen Jimmy Houston and Roland Martin signed autographs, Bass Pro Shops founder John Morris stood quietly by, shaking hands and greeting customers with a warm smile.
Unaware of his status with the company, I approached Morris to inquire if he was the Palm Bay store’s general manager.
To my pleasant surprise, I soon discovered was speaking to one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American retail history.
The “original” Bass Pro Shops was a far cry from the massive sportsmen super centers throughout the country.
Martin’s first store started within an eight-foot space of his father’s liquor store, which blossomed into one of the most popular tackle shops for fishermen en route to local lakes along the Ozark Mountains.
In 1974, Martin printed and mailed his first Bass Pro Shops catalog. Four years later, he introduced a boat customized to cater to specific needs of a bass fisherman. His Bass Tracker boat “package” revolutionized the marine industry.
Just under 40 years later, his shops now serve more than 75 million sportsmen a year. Judging from the welcome Bass Pro Shop got last night, there’s no doubt this incredible showplace will quickly become a landmark for all of Brevard County.
Facts About the Bass Pro Shops Palm Bay Store
- The new 80,000-square foot Bass Pro Shops Stick Marsh Outpost is located at 750 Bass Pro Drive NE.
- Bass Pro Shops’ stores are customized for their region and are often considered to be part museum, art gallery, antique store, and aquarium, and centers for conservation education and having fun.
- Bass Pro Shops also offers the area’s largest selection of high-quality outdoor gear as well as a staff of dedicated, professionals who promote the outdoor lifestyle and live it as well.
- Using many area artifacts, antiques, period pictures, state record wildlife mounts, and memorabilia, the store becomes a living museum of south Florida’s hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor legacies.
- The new store will feature a 16,000-gallon aquarium filled with largemouth and striped bass, black/white crappie, longnose and shortnose gar, redfish, bowfin, bigmouth and smallmouth buffalo, and miscellaneous sunfish.
Decorating with Nature in Mind
Hand-painted murals wrap the store’s interior and depict familiar scenes of the region. One gets the sense of traveling through South Florida’s landscape as the murals transport the viewer through a series of panoramic vistas—all beautifully replicated with the stroke of an artist’s brush. Through the use of special lighting techniques, the murals take on a living, breathing quality.
The lobby is designed to resemble an old South Florida hunting/fishing cabin constructed of a variety of miscellaneous boards and leftover wood pieces. It features many antique boats, motors, hunting and fishing supplies in addition to white-tailed deer, hog and fish mounts.
- A mural depicting a Florida savanna and the St. John’s River basin is painted on the walls of the hunting, and camping departments. A diorama of a Florida panther can be seen stalking a group of hogs and Osceola turkeys while a herd of white-tailed deer run across the savanna. Overhead, a flock of mallards can be seen flying across the Florida wetlands.
- In the fishing department, the mural features the Stick Marsh portion of the St. John’s River basin. Largemouth bass, crappie, bream, gar and catfish swim around the submerged trees of the Stick Marsh.
- The fly shop mural portrays the flats of the Mosquito Lagoon while the Sebastian Inlet and Atlantic Ocean mural appears in the saltwater department. Snook, flounder, Goliath grouper along with other fish swim across the bottom of the Sebastian Inlet while a school of dolphin swim below the Sargassum seaweed in the offshore scene.
- In the camping department, a diorama features a canoe on the banks of the Econlockhatchee River.
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