Bass Pro Group
What started as one man’s love for bass fishing eventually grew into a well-known outdoor recreation brand with more than 200 retail and marine center locations across North America. After spending five years on the professional bass fishing circuit and noticing growing interest in the sport, Johnny Morris founded Bass Pro Shops in 1972 with 8 square feet of space in the back of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, which served as the company’s sole location for the first 13 years of business.
Today, Bass Pro Group remains headquartered in the heart of the Ozarks and now includes shops specializing in outdoor gear, apparel, and gifts; wilderness resorts; and conservation attractions. The original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World location in Springfield, Missouri, is known as “The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores,” attracting 4 million families and outdoor enthusiasts every year to experience the 500,000-square-foot store’s seven aquariums, educational sessions, extensive shopping, and more.
“Our retail locations are more than just stores—they are true destination experiences that draw more than 200 million visitors annually,” says Jack Wlezien, director of communications for Bass Pro Group. “We heavily customize each location to reflect the character of the region. In addition to giant aquariums and extensive wildlife dioramas, many locations feature restaurants and ocean-themed bowling alleys.”
Bass Pro Group also manufactures boats and has a hospitality division with resort destinations like Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, which has been rated “No. 1 resort in the Midwest” by Travel + Leisure readers for the past three years. The company’s not-for-profit foundation has established several world-class conservation attractions, including Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, featuring 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.
“IAAPA represents a remarkable collection of creative organizations and individuals that help people have fun and make dreams come true,” Wlezien says. “Helping people have fun is extremely important to us because it fosters lifelong connections and memories to the outdoors, which advances our conservation mission and ensures the next generation will continue to appreciate and care for wild places.”