Bass Pro opens

The Bass Pro Shops Outpost in Niagara-on-the-Lake is officially open.

The ribbon of the anchor retailer at the Outlet Collection at Niagara was cut Wednesday evening, to a crowd that braved the heavy snow squalls blowing across the region, some people lining up as early as 3 p.m. to stand in the blowing snow until the doors opened at 6 p.m.

An all-star lineup of celebrities from the world of sports, entertainment and the outdoors was reduced to those who could make it through the storm as the newest Bass Pro addition opened with its traditional Evening for Conservation, donating half of all sales to local conservation and wildlife organizations.

Dave Mercer, host of Facts of Fishing, emceed the opening celebrations, recounting a little of the history of the company founded by Johnny Morris, who attends all store openings, but was coming from the U.S. and couldn't reach NOTL because of the weather.

In 1971, Mercer said, Morris, frustrated by the lack of fishing tackle in local stores, rented a trailer and travelled across the U.S., filling it with bait. When he returned home to Springfield, Missouri, he set up shop in an eight-foot section in the back of his father's liquor store.

What Morris built, general manager Giles Fisher told the crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting, "is the greatest outdoor store on this planet."

Also on hand to celebrate the opening was Kevin and Paul Beasley, co-hosts of Canada in the Rough television show, Wendel Clark, former captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Owen Nolan, former NHL player and host of Sportsman 360 TV show, Bones, the Ice Dogs mascot, and some Ice Dog players.

Santa was in Santa's Wonderland, another tradition of the outdoor store, with a long line-up of kids waiting to visit with Santa and receive a free photo.

Known for providing a fun outdoor experience indoors, a typical Bass Pro Shops retail store features more than 3,500 antiques and artifacts, up to 400 trophy fish and wildlife mounts, and many murals depicting local scenes. At 800,000 square feet, the NOTL Outpost is on a smaller scale, but includes a gigantic fish aquarium stocked with fish native to Niagara, wildlife mounts throughout the store, and murals of the Niagara River, the falls and other conservation areas.

Free Bass Pro Shops outdoor skills workshops will be offered throughout the year on a regular basis and will include topics such as outdoor cooking, nature photography, fly fishing, camping, archery and more.

Bass Pro Shops will host more than 116 million people visiting their 90 stores. The average customer stays 2 ½ hours and drives an average distance of 50 plus miles.


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