Originally posted 1 June 2012
I don’t know when you saw your first Bass Pro Shops catalog but for me it was in 1976. I got it from an authorized Bass Pro dealership in Roland Heights, CA called Angler’s West, if I’m not mistaken.
Anyway, looking through that 200-plus page catalog just amazed me. They had everything a bass angler needed and more. Bass Tracker boats, Balsa Bs, Mustad 33637 worm hooks (by the 100 box), Mann’s Jelly worms (by the 100 bag), Uncle Bucks risqué little calendar, you name it.
I always wanted to go to this shop but unfortunately, I was in California and it was in Missouri. Mom wasn’t going to take me there to drop my $20 worth of lunch money I saved weekly.
In 2008, though, I headed back to Mountain Home, AR to pick up my new Bass Cat and made it a point to stop by the “Original” Bass Pro Shops. By then I’d been to roughly 5 of the super stores but the one in Springfield was always on my bucket list. I wasn’t disappointed.
I’d always heard Johnny Morris started his business with a $10,000 loan from his father and some wall space in his father’s general store. Definitely an American success story if I’d ever heard one.
Last week I ran across this 1972 Bass Pro Shops Spring Sale ad in the 1972 March/April issue of Bass Master Magazine and thought you’d find it interesting. During the months of March and April, Johnny was hosting the first two BASS Anglers of the Year, Bill Dance and Roland Martin along with future legend Billy Murray. Wallace Lea, who was a considerable threat in those early days would also be there to visit.
Also present would be one of the grandfathers of the sport whom we lost earlier this month, Jim Rogers of Rogers World Champion Lures. In the ad, it says he was the “Former World’s Champion Freshwater Fisherman.” Actually he and his wife Babe won the Mr. and Mrs. Category of the World Series of Sportfishing in 1963.
I also noticed a possible typo or maybe Garcia Mitchell was a real dude and not the rod/reel manufacturer? Does anyone remember if he was a real person?
Past Reader Comments:
Paul Wallace: I don’t remember the exact year 75/76?? when I got my first BPS catalog. I do remember owning a Mean Green Stick. I also remember the first graphite rod I bought, a BPS design that was stiff and eventually broke like a match stick. LOL Still have the Zebco Cardinal 4 [the green one] in my antique collection. That catalog was better than Sears, JC Penny and all the other ones combined. Spent 100s of hours gazing in that thing…..Oh wait I still do.
RichZ: I was going to say that it started in his dad’s Brown Derby Liquor store, not a general store, but it looks as if you’ve already got that covered. In the early years, he stocked his store by buying from Don Butler at Okiebug.
Chris McGrath: The address on the flyer is a Brown Derby Liquor store now and though the Google Maps picture is partially blocked by a Budweiser truck, it looks pretty similar. Since the flyer has an address from a different Brown Derby a couple miles away, I suspect the store was in the back of one of a small chain of liquor stores owned by his father. To quote the Brown Derby website “The beginning of Brown Derby dates back to 1937 when Mr. John A. Morris opened his first liquor store in Springfield, Missouri. Back then, a cold six pack of beer and a half pint of whiskey were the beverage of choice.”
From their website, it looks like they moved about 2 miles north on S. Campbell Avenue to build the fancy new store in Springfield.
Terry to Chris McGrath: Thanks for the sleuthing Chris. Leave it to you to figure this out. 🙂 Gotta love the quote!