Local sporting goods stores unfazed by opening of Bass Pro Shops

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The grand opening of Little Rock's Bass Pro Shops drew an enormous crowd with nearly 15,000 people attending the sporting store's debut. But the initial attention the Springfield, Missouri based business received is not really fazing locally owned sporting goods stores.

Ozark Outdoor Supply, a smaller mom and pop style shop located in the Heights neighborhood, sells mostly camping gear, boats and hiking equipment. Although many of the items the business carries overlap with items sold at Bass Pro, owner Jim Frank said his clientele is generally looking for something different.

"I'm trying to be unique in my marketplace," said Frank. "It's that while also fulfilling the needs of my customers."

Customer service is what the owner of Fort Thompson in Sherwood said will eventually set his store and staff apart from Bass Pro. He said all his workers know is hunting and some have been working with him for nearly 20 years.

"They know everything about scopes, guns, and when a customer comes in we will take care of them," said Tom Denniston, owner of Fort Thompson. "That's been the key to our success is pretty well just taking care of our customers."

Even though the traffic Bass Pro Shops saw on their opening day dwarfed what Ozark Outdoor Supply saw on the same day, Frank said he doesn't think the commotion will last. Although slightly nervous about what business might be taken away he doesn't think it will be much.

"There's some concern," said Frank. "But I don't think ultimately with the location and what we do here it's really going to be that big of an issue."

Both Frank and Denniston's businesses have been in the Little Rock area for about 40 and 80 years respectively, and claim that too will help their case in retaining their customer base.

And Denniston surely can't be too concerned about the potential swaying of customers from his store to Bass Pro. Fort Thompson just added a bunch of square footage to their store with a new addition.

"As far as the true sportsman, the guy that really knows his stuff and wants his product and wants someone to sell it to him that understands it, then we're the place to go," said Denniston.