UPDATE: Huge crowd shows up for Bass Pro Shops grand opening
Bass Pro Shops in East Ridge celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday night, and people came out in droves to get a look inside the 84,000-square-foot facility.
UPDATE: Bass Pro Shops in East Ridge celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday night, and people came out in droves to get a look inside the 84,000-square-foot facility.
"It will be fun to see what all is inside," said Jeremy Fox, who drove his family down from Cleveland.
"We are a whole family of fishermen," Fox said.
Crowds were trying to beat the heat. Many people showed up hours before doors opened.
The store is a big deal for outdoor enthusiasts and sports fans of all ages.
"I'm a big NASCAR fan," said Landyn Bean, 8.
Many shoppers had to park at Camp Jordan. Bus shuttles were driving to and from the store.
"I just got off work. I wanna see what the big hoopla is about," said Charles Goss of Rossville.
Bass Pro is a main anchor store for the development called "Jordan Crossing."
"It's my type of store," Goss said. "I could spend here, oh, all day probably."
City officials are excited residents can spend their dollars locally, while attracting visitors from miles away.
"It is a retail store, but it is more like a tourist attraction," said East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert. "People come from literally hours away to visit, and a lot of the times, they will stay the night."
The store, by itself, is expected to pump an annual $2 million sales dollars into the local economy.
Lambert calls it a "catalyst" for additional growth.
"Even though we're kind of at the end of the road as far as the Bass Pro development," he said, "It really is the beginning of the overall picture of East Ridge."
According to Lambert, a Zaxby's will be built across the street from the store, and additional plans for the shopping center should be announced in the coming days.
ORIGINAL STORY: Store employees are busy putting the final touches for the big grand opening. Crews spent Wednesday morning stocking shelves and putting final touches on the 80,000 square foot store ahead of the grand opening.
"It’s been amazing to see it go up, all the things you see painted, hand painted on the walls. It’s been unbelievable watching the transformation of this store," Tracker Boats and Marine Department Manager David Hickman said.
Bass Pro Shops is expected to provide a major boost to the local economy. The 20 million dollar investment is expected to attract thousands of shoppers to the region and bring in more than two million dollars in sales a year.
Store manager Jarron Ritchie says the store has hired 165 employees, most of them are local.
"This is a great place because it's such an outdoor driven community so we're excited about that and we're excited that we can bring our passion to a city that is passionate about the outdoors," Ritchie said.
Local artifacts and hand-painted murals of Tennessee’s Appalachian Mountains wrap the inside of the store. The grand opening is expected to draw hundreds of customers, eagerly waiting to check out the new retailer.
Like many others, Ross Elkins has been waiting for the opening for more than a year now, he plans to wait in the long lines Wednesday night to get a look inside.
"I’m trying to get somebody to watch my son for a little bit so I can go get in line. I don't want to take a 1-year-old in line at the Bass Pro,” Elkins said.
Due to the large crowd expected, crews spent the afternoon blocking off the parking lot.
"Our number one focus right now is traffic flow. We’re trying to get all the signs out today so people know where to park, where our overflow parking is and what to expect when you get here,” Ritchie said.
During construction, the store worked with the city to widen Camp Jordan Parkway from two lanes to five to reduce congestion in the area.
The City of East Ridge warned residents and motorists to expect some traffic congestion and suggested that patience would go a long way for both the grand opening Wednesday night and the store's regular opening Thursday morning.
Shuttles will be available between the store and Camp Jordan should the store's parking lots fill up.
Store employees expect a busy weekend ahead, but say they are excited to bring the outdoors into the community.
The long-awaited East Ridge Bass Pro Shops Outpost will be holding its grand opening on Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
The store will be kicking off the grand opening with a special event called an "Evening for Conservation".
The celebration will include a ribbon-cutting, gift giveaways, exhibit booths, and celebrity appearances.
People set to attend the grand opening event include:
- UT Coach and player Johhny Majors
- UT quarterback Erik Ainge
- Jimmy Houston, TV host
- Edwin Evers, 2016 Massmaster Classic champion
Experts will be on hand to talk to customers about fishing, hunting, and boating, and there will be store wide savings on a number of products.
50% of each dollar spent on products will be donated to The Tennessee Aquarium, the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.
East Ridge Bass Pro Shops will continue to celebrate the grand opening throughout the weekend with vendor exhibits and giveaways, until Sunday, July 17th.
The "Evening for Conservation" event is free and open to the public.