Thousands of Alaskans lined up for hours on Wednesday night to be the first customers of Bass Pro Shops.
Traffic was still backed up as the doors of the Mountain View store opened and the crowed spilled in. A line quickly formed for the .22 caliber ammunition.
Johnny Morris founded Bass Pro Shops in Missouri in 1971 and made the trip to Anchorage to open his 69th store.
“It’s a very proud night, it’s almost overwhelming … it’s a great frontier for fishing and hunting,” Morris said.
Store manager Pat Nolde agreed.
“I’m really proud of our team that put it all together,” Nolde said. “This is the night we’ve all been waiting for.”
Economic expert Bill Popp says new competition is good for consumers but smaller business owners in Anchorage who sell similar products will have to find a niche to keep up with the new competition.
“It’s going to be challenging for smaller businesses,” said Popp, CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.
“I think the local business owners who are experienced in the Alaskan market know the nuances of what their customers are looking for, providing that extra level of service,” Popp said.
Customer Andrew Sather says Anchorage needed another option for outdoor gear and equipment.
“Big ticket items, there’s not a whole lot, pretty much buy it online or bring it up from Lower 48,” Sather said.
Popp says the opening of Bass Pro Shops will drive more money into the Anchorage economy.
“I think what we are going to see is a significant reduction in the amount of mail-order business … where the dollars are leaving the state, going to the catalogue divisions of national chains.”
The company has also hired locally, with nearly 30 staff from Mountain View and many more from Anchorage.