The Hunt For Private Brand At Bass Pro Shop

Springfield Missouri based Bass Pro Shops (Outdoor World) is a privately held retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor recreation merchandise with more than fifty stores nationwide. I grew up camping and fishing so I have a passing interest in the category however I am closer to a car camper than a outdoorsman. Nevertheless the retail concept fascinates me they create amazing immersive experiences with high concentrations of Private Brands leveraged off of a strong outdoor history.

The owner, John L. Morris, began his career in sporting goods with a fishing section in the back of a Brown Derby liquor store owned by his dad, located in Springfield on the road to Table Rock Lake and Branson, Missouri. That small department sold homemade Private Brand bait and worms, proving popular enough that Bass Pro Shops incorporated in 1972. These Private Brand baits were so popular that wanted to buy them when they returned home and the first catalog was mailed in 1974. In 1975, to meet the burgeoning demand for Bass Pro Shops exclusive products, American Rod and Gun was established. Acting as a separate wholesaling entity ARG serves more than 7000 independently owned retail stores worldwide. In 1977, Bass Pro Shops introduced the first fish-ready complete boat motor and trailer package with the Private Brand boat the Bass Tracker. In 1984, construction began on the Outdoor World Catalog Showroom in Springfield, Missouri. Big Cedar Lodge opened in 1988 on Table Rock Lake. In 1995 Bass Pro Shops Sportsman’s Warehouse opened in Atlanta, GA, this is the first store outside the state of Missouri.

If you have never shopped a Bass Pro Shop the store ranges from 300,000 square feet down to 42,000 square feet they are the perfect combination of Disney World and Big Box. The decor includes taxidermy mounts native to the local area. All stores have an indoor water feature that showcase fish species indigenous to the area. In some of these aquariums professional anglers and store pro-staff hold demonstrations and continue to provide the theater that so many retailers strive for today.

Bass Pro carries a number of Private Brands including: Ascend, Bass Pro Shops, Bob Timberlake, Johnny Morris Reels, Natural Reflections, Offshore Angler, Uncle Buck’s, White River, Worldwide Sportsman. XPS, XTS and Redhead which is featured in a two page spread for this weeks flyer.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.