Workers building ship wreck in the bowling alley/restaurant in the new Bass Pro Shop in Bristol. Photo by Ned Jilton II
When asked what will be unique about the newest Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World location, store manager Jeff Hall quickly pointed out: "We will bring East Tennessee into the store."
Development of the 104,000 square-foot anchor tenant of The Pinnacle — a 400-acre mixed use site — is heading toward the homestretch at the intersection of Interstate 81 and Highway 11W.
The privately held retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor recreation merchandise has scheduled an August 21 grand opening.
The Pinnacle project raised eyebrows following the announcement that the city of Bristol, Tenn., would put $25 million toward the development.
All of that money, said City Manager William Sorah, is going toward things like water and sewer lines, sidewalks and traffic signalization.
"All of our (Pinnacle) investment is in public infrastructure," Sorah stressed.
Now more than 100 construction people — contractors, subcontractors, muralists and others — are at work to give Bass Pro customers the feeling of being outdoors in hunting and fishing settings.
Steel beams are being made to look like they are covered with moss. Taxidermy featuring black bears and white tailed deer has been set up to reflect species indigenous to the region. And then there's the huge fireplace greeting customers at the store entrance.
Hall, who will be managing his second Bass Pro location, noted the Bristol store will have a 19,000 square-foot "Uncle Buck's Fish Bowl and Grill," a relatively new restaurant brand featuring 12 bowling lanes.
"One of the reasons we started doing restaurants in our stores was because people drove from a long distance, and spent an hour and a half to two hours in the store," Hall said during a so-called "sneak peak" tour of the construction site.
He came to Bass Pro Shops after a 20-plus year career with Sears. For the past seven and a half years he was the general manager of a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in the Chicago area.
The Bristol Bass Pro location will get a crack at a potential market of three million people in a 100-mile radius much sooner than a rival Cabela's to be developed north off I-81 in Bristol, Va.
Hall stressed Bass Pro is good at doing a number of outdoor skills workshops — everything from setting up a tent to frying fish — while selling unlimited brand merchandise.
"We will do a lot of demonstrations and seminars," Hall promised. "We will hook up with a lot of the bass clubs and fishing clubs and do onsite workshops....We're in business to sell outdoor goods, but more so than that, we're here to educate the public how to use that item and have a great experience with it."
Bass Pro's Bristol location is expected to employ approximately 250-300 associates from the area.
For more go to www.basspro.com.