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Bass Pro competitors not worried

July 15, 2010 at 11:23 AM


BARTONVILLE — Presley’s Outdoors owner Tim Presley is not concerned about being in the shadow of East Peoria’s Bass Pro Shops when it opens next fall.

“It’s nothing we can’t handle,” said Presley on Wednesday. “For us, we just have to be that much more competitive.”

He spoke out against Bass Pro coming to the other side of the Illinois River during a public hearing held by the East Peoria City Council on Tuesday night. Presley scolded council members for getting involved in private business, saying the city shouldn’t “be a landlord.”

In its agreement with Bass Pro, East Peoria will issue $45 million in general obligation bonds to build the road leading to Bass Pro, the store itself and parking lot. In return, Bass Pro will pay rent or 2 percent of its gross sales for each year of the 20-year lease.

“You got a city developing a private business for them and building infrastructure for them and giving it to them and saying, ‘You pay rent,’ ” said Presley. “If Bass Pro had come in on their own, you wouldn’t have heard a complaint out of my mouth.

“They (East Peoria) made a mistake. I think they jumped the gun.”

Presley’s Outdoors, a family-owned hunting and fishing merchandiser that’s been around for 64 years, is used to big-box retailers, such as Gander Mountain and Dick’s Sporting Goods, moving into the area.

“It’s like when Gander Mountain and Dick’s came in, I said, ‘Oh boy, what a pain in the butt,’ ” said Presley. “What these places do for the first three to six months is offer cheaper prices, but they will go up steadily.

“They just want to get you in the door and spend money.”

Presley also calls foul on the 300 full-time jobs Bass Pro says it guarantees when the store opens in September 2011.

“That is one big lie,” he said, noting Walmart stores make a similar promise but a large percentage of their work force is part-time employees.

And while his store doesn’t have an indoor restaurant, aquarium or bowling alley like Bass Pro, Presley said he is confident his customers and 14 staff members will remain loyal to Presley’s Outdoors.

“Our type of business is a trade,” he said. “You have to know what you’re doing.”

Wolf Hollow Archery of Rome welcomes the competition from Bass Pro.

“I personally think it’s a good thing for everyone,” said Celeste Pollack, who, with her husband, Larry, has owned Wolf Hollow for 16 years. “Competition is good.”

She said their store, like many of the other locally owned outdoor goods stores, will maintain its customer base, despite Bass Pro’s lure.

“We’ve had Super Walmart out this way. We have Dick’s and Gander Mountain and it hasn’t hurt us,” Pollack said.

Merle Keefer, 17-year owner of Pekin Bass and Bow, said he’s already taken steps to eliminate products that would put him in competition with Bass Pro. That means dropping supplier American Rod & Gun because it’s owned by Bass Pro.

“We’re going to wait and see what happens and take the steps we need to,” Keefer said.

Calls to Gander Mountain and Dick’s in Peoria for comment Wednesday were referred to the companies’ corporate offices. No one there could be reached for comment.

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I wouldn’t be worried - if the small shops up there know their customers (and I’m sure they do) - they’ll have the inventory their folks want, better customer service and knowledge and folks will come to prefer dealing with the small shops.    About the only thing the big-box stores can offer is sales. 

There’s no way I’d EVER let a store like BPS set up a bow for me.  I want a qualified archery shop for that. 

Same way with fishing tackle.  There’s lotsa fishermen pass up the big stores in the StLouis area for the small shops that know their customers and really - the prices are just as competitive on the tackle that serious fishermen want. 

Good Luck to all the shops up there - and to heck with the glitz of the big boys….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 11:35 AM

I was thinking the same thing Rat58.  The people who are serious about their sports typically go to the smaller stores where there’s more one on one interaction, staff’s more qualified and knowledgeable of their products, and more customer friendly.  For example… WAY too often in Gander Mtn, I’ve witnessed sales staff not really know the products or give practical options.  The bigger chain stores are more after the quick sale than building a long term relationship/trust with a returning customer.  I’ve even been in a locally owned store where they didn’t have what I wanted, but referred me to another store.  I’ve never heard of a big chain referring customers to another store.  Instead, I’ve witnessed bad mouthing and saying things that aren’t particularly true about their competition.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 12:10 PM

Presley’s is an icon in Bartonville amongst all of hte sportsman that I know.  The guys in there know what they are doing. Tim Presely is a hunter himself, he knows what products work and what area hunters want and need. I have been shopping there for 25+ years.  Ever go into one of the aforementioned stores and try to get a technical question answered?  Most of the sales people are kids, and in most cases I know much more about their products than they do.  I much prefer going to Presleys where I know I can get what I need even if I have to pay a little more.  While I may frequent Bass pro once it is here; I will continue to do most of my buying at Presley’s.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 12:41 PM

If pekin bass and bows business suffer it wont be because of Bass Pro coming to town, but rather poor service and high prices. Presleys blows them out of the water

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 02:22 PM

I love Bass Pro Shops - anytime we’re in Branson or heading that direction we stop at their impressive store in Springfield, MO.  But that’s where the love affair ends.  For service, advice, and hard-to-find items, Presley’s can’t be beat.  I have no doubt I will spend some money at BPS just as I do at Gander now, but the majority of my spending will still be at Presley’s.  It’s their customer service that keeps me coming back.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/16 at 08:13 AM

The only store that needs to worry about BPS coming to town is Gander Mountain.  From what I can tell, Gander does not and has never had a bow expert.  They’ll give you advice like they know what they’re talking about when clearly they do not.  For the experts, you go to the small pro shops.  However, that being said, I will shop at BPS for camo.  Camo is something that is difficult to find a decent selection of at any of the local shops.  All in all though, I’m glad BPS is coming to town.  Cool store.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/17 at 06:34 PM

I’d go to Pekin Bow and Bass any day over Bass Pro to get anything done with my bow.  Merle and his wife are nice and he has years and years of experience.  Bass Pro Shops might be okay to get camo and small stuff but if you are buying a bow, go somewhere like Pekin Bow and Bass.  Their customer service is great!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/15 at 09:17 PM

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