Columbia’s new Bass Pro Shop will serve as more than just a haven for outdoors enthusiasts. The store — set to open March 31 — is designed to educate people on conservation and the outdoors.
The inside of the 82,000 square-foot building on Vandiver Drive is decorated with real trees, stuffed deer, elk and bears and animal tracks set in the floor — all of which create a surreal sense of being outdoors. But such decor is not unique to the Columbia store. Each Bass Pro Shop includes murals and displays that are unique to that region.
“The Las Vegas store features a lot of mountains and desert, which are native to that area,” said Kristie Wilson, promotions director for the Columbia store.
The theme of the Columbia store is the legacy of the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Bob Sopchick, muralist for Bass Pro Shops. The murals and artwork featured in the store recognize the efforts made by the department over the years to help preserve and restore Missouri wildlife.
The murals include a tribute to Lewis and Clark, the story of the preservation of the paddlefish, the restoration of the white-tailed deer and a reproduction of the story of conservation mural by Charles Schwartz.
Schwartz’s original mural is located in the foyer of the Department of Conservation’s headquarters in Jefferson City. It tells the story of conservation from the settlement and exploitation of land in 1700 through what is being done today.
According to Allan Schomaker, director of imagery for Bass Pro Shops, the mural is a reflection of the relationship that Bass Pro Shops has with local conservation agencies.
“We work with the Department of Conservation to better the outdoors,” Schomaker said. “These murals help show that.”
Bass Pro Shops hopes its new Columbia location can be used to continue this relationship.
“We hope in the future to work with the Department of Conservation to host educational workshops,” Wilson said.
Other features in the new store include a fish tank filled with fish native to Missouri, including catfish and bass.
Designed especially for the Columbia store is a Bengal tiger exhibit, in honor of the Missouri Tigers.
“A lot of our employees are MU graduates, and our store manager wanted to incorporate that into the design,” Wilson said.
Shoppers can test products in the store before purchasing them. A five-acre manmade lake behind the store was built for trying out a new fishing pole or reel, while an indoor archery range lets people test their hand-eye coordination.