Sunday, November 05, 2000

Outdoors shop draws crowds

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

        FAIRFIELD — With the grand opening of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World this weekend, the previously moribund Forest Fair Mall was suddenly a hot destination for shoppers.

        Inside the specialty megastore, lines for the escalator looked like roller coaster queues at Paramount's Kings Island. So, too, did the checkout lines. Mounted trophy moose looked out over wall-to-wall crowds that browsed, and bought, in record numbers.

        “We have exceeded our expectations,” said the store's general manager, Gary Rice.

        On Thursday and Friday, Outdoor World's initial days, between 20,000 and 30,000 shoppers came through the turnstile daily.

        “All our stores do very well,” Mr. Rice said. “On weekdays they draw customers from 53 to 58 miles away; on weekends, from 200 to 250 miles. This store will take business from our Nashville, Tenn., store, because folks from Louisville will come here.”

        There was almost no external advertising prior to the opening. Bass Pro customers in the region knew of the new store through chain's catalog and Web site.

        Mall visitors didn't just scout Outdoor World. Burlington Coat Factory was alive with family shoppers, and bargain hunters sifted through the racks at SteinMart's new clearance outlet.

        “Are we feeling a positive impact from this grand opening?” asked Mel Nadler, owner of Nadler's, a menswear retailer at Forest Fair. “The answer is yes, underlined. It's unbelievable. Before, we wouldn't see any traffic, no traffic at all. (Outdoor World) is bringing a whole new group of people into the area.”

        Bass Pro was started in 1971 by a professional fisherman who couldn't find the lures he wanted and decided to make and sell his own.


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