The original Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri has been a special destination for 50 years. From humble beginnings of selling a little fishing tackle in the back of his father’s Brown Derby liquor store, to the empire amassed today, Johnny Morris has always been about selling equipment that helps sportsmen enjoy the outdoors and conserving natural resources for future generations. His continued passion for doing so was on full display as Bass Pro Shops celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the World’s Fishing Fair.
When I was a kid, the Bass Pro Shops catalog was all I needed to make my Christmas list. I had so much early Bass Pro branded gear. I was proud of my hats, t-shirts, a life jacket, tackle box and more. These items filled me with pride, because I knew anyone who saw me wearing the Bass Pro logo would recognize I was a serious fisherman. I loved Bass Pro so much as a boy, we took a family trip to the store in Springfield from my childhood home in Northwest Indiana. I was 12. I bought my first baitcasting reel that day. I remember it like it was yesterday.
In the early days of Bass Pro Shops, Johnny used to have Fishing Fairs. Celebrities like Bill Dance, Roland Martin and Jimmy Houston would meet and greet customers. It has been quite a while since Bass Pro hosted a Fishing Fair, so to celebrate the 50th Anniversary, Johnny got the old band back together, filled the parking lot of the store with giant tents filled with fishing and hunting product vendors and brought in some A-list country music stars. All to celebrate 50 years of Bass Pro Shops and to raise money for conservation. I got to shake Bill Dance’s hand. For a just a few seconds, I was 12 again.
It’s safe to say no outdoor industry company has ever done more for conservation than Bass Pro Shops. It would be hard to name a conservation organization Bass Pro hasn’t made a donation to. The corporate generosity extends to state and federal wildlife agencies, and numerous universities as well. Every time a customer buys something at a Bass Pro Shop they have the chance to donate to the Outdoor Fund by rounding up to the nearest dollar. Those small donations add up to millions of dollars used to support conservation initiatives across the country. I donate with every purchase, and hope you’ll consider doing the same.
Last week, thanks to the success of the World’s Fishing Fair, Johnny was able to make a significant contribution to conservation when he took the stage with Hank Williams, Jr. to announce a $1.5 million dollar contribution to conservation causes.
“I have never felt more proud of our Bass Pro team, our vendors, and our conservation partners,” Johnny Morris said. “Thanks to this collective effort, and with the support of our generous customers and the City of Springfield, we are able to make this donation that will help further crucial conservation efforts for years to come. The fact that we were able to host this event and make this donation to help celebrate our 50th anniversary right here in Springfield makes us very proud and very happy!”
It was great to see Johnny walking around the vendor tents shaking hands with customers and folks working their booths. While he certainly has a celebrity status, you could tell he was just so happy and humbled to be amongst the crowd. Like everyone else, he was enjoying the energy of the special event. Like everything he has done over the years, the World’s Fishing Fair celebrated fishing, hunting and conservation. There were companies with booths that have been partnered with Bass Pro for many of the 50 years the company has been in business. Some partnerships are bigger than others. Toyota has been a longtime partner of the company.
“As highlighted in our longstanding partnership, both Toyota and Bass Pro Shops have a shared interest in supporting important environmental and conservation efforts through events like the World’s Fishing Fair,” said Pete Carey, Toyota Financial Services Group Vice President and President of Private Label. “To bring awareness of and benefit conservation through an event of this magnitude is truly significant and impactful in this ongoing effort to protect the great outdoors.”
Attendees came to the World’s Fishing Fair from 47 states and Canada. They were able to shop for special deals, visit Wonders of Wildlife and the other special museums on site, and take in country concerts by Luke Combs, Hank Williams, Jr. and more. The proceeds from 100 percent of all ticket sales to the World’s Fishing Fair and Concerts for Conservation were used to make the $1.5 million dollar benefit to conservation. Johnny Morris did it again.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Johnny Morris walked through all the tents to greet vendors and attendees of the World’s Fishing Fair.