As we crossed over the Illinois River on our way to meeting family for dinner the other night, my 3 year old spoke up and exclaimed—“Bass Pro is my favorite! Can we go to Bass Pro dada”? I will admit to feeling some guilt at times when we hit that spot up for some family fun as I have friends who work for other local outdoors shops and I adamantly believe in “shopping locally” whenever possible. That being said, I would contend that there is need and room for both the big box outdoors stores and local stores alike. And on top of that there is also need for online shopping opportunities in this space for the sake of true price honesty at it’s finest. . .
My first outdoors store shopping experiences that I can recall started at a cramped store on Peoria’s south side. It was in a somewhat shady neighborhood but it was a fairly short trip over the bridge from our hometown and many of you can guess as to what store I’m referring (South Side Worm Ranch). I recall trying on waders for the start of teal season and looking at all of the new gear available for our duck hunting adventures. Back then I just don’t recall the variety of specialty equipment that there is today. Options were fairly few and far between but you could always get what you “needed” to get out and stay comfortable. Nowadays, the options for outdoors clothing and equipment is truly mind-boggling with more options and more places to buy from than ever before.
I would have never guessed that someday there might be a Bass Pro Shops here in Peoria, IL. I visited my first one as a young boy at their hometown store in Springfield, MO many moons ago. It was another experience I’ll never forget but less for the buying options and more for the experience. If you’ve never been than I suggest you make a trip and bring the kids because their home store is something to behold. It now has an adjoining natural history museum and you can spend hours just taking it all in—complete with living animals roaming around within their indoor displays.
I’m gonna say that both local and big box stores have their place. For my family, a trip with the kids to Bass Pro is a great day for us all but if I’m looking for some specialty equipment and wanna BS with the Chef or get some in-depth knowledge on a hunting subject I’ll head to Presley’s. Not that Bass Pro doesn’t have experts but I KNOW that I’ll get great advice from Presley’s because those guys eat, breathe, and live the outdoors here in central Illinois.