Southern California’s second Bass Pro Shops—those eye-catching outdoor outfitters—will come to Irvine in early 2023.
The chain’s “Outdoor World” is moving into a vacant 140,000 square foot space at Alton Marketplace, an Irvine Co. property just off Highway 5 at Alton Parkway. The mall, with its colorful freeway signage, is perhaps best known for the Costco store next door.
The new store will open “in late 2022 or early 2023”, said the retailer who is a pioneer of so-called “destination shopping” – places that become attractions on their own. Bass Pro has been in Rancho Cucamonga since 2007 in a prominent location off Highway 15 in the Victoria Gardens shopping district.
Bass Pro stores are full of merchandise that targets outdoor enthusiasts, especially fishing and hunting enthusiasts. Outdoor World also sells boats and all-terrain vehicles. Other types of adventurers, from campers to hikers and runners, will also find plenty of walkways to suit their needs.
But what sets a Bass Pro store apart is what the retailer describes as its “immersive experience handcrafted by a talented team of artists and artisans.” The stores have an overall woodsy feel — both outside and inside — and are highlighted by various indoor water features such as huge aquariums.
And while the 182,000 square foot Irvine and Rancho Cucamonga locations are relatively large stores, they are by no means the largest Bass Pro locations. Stores in the chain’s hometown of Springfield, Mo., and Memphis are more than three times the size — with more than half a million square feet of retail space.
“The addition of America’s best outdoor brand will be a major draw to this prime location,” Ken Gillett, senior vice president of Irvine Co.’s retail division, said in a statement. .
The separate buying formula has worked well for privately held Bass Pro with 170 stores in North America, including 86 Cabela’s – a competitor it bought in 2017.
That’s a fortune of $6 billion for founder Johnny Morris, according to Forbes magazine. It’s quite an evolution from Morris’ humble beginnings in retail – selling fishing tackle in 1972 around the corner from his father’s Missouri liquor store.
“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to partner with Irvine Co. to bring our next generation Outdoor World store to Irvine. There is no stronger company to work with in the region,” Morris said in a statement.
Bass Pro’s announcement is part of a remarkable retail revival in Southern California. The pandemic-era push toward online retailing hasn’t killed consumers’ wishes for the in-store shopping experience.
For example, store owners in the Four Counties region employed 735,000 people in March after recovering 98% of the 150,000 jobs lost in early 2020. Coronavirus business limitations that froze the economy had cost their jobs 1 in 5 local retail workers.
The turnaround also helped Irvine Co. land some whimsical additions to its line of retailers.
Bristol Farms has just opened a new concept supermarket across the 5 from Alton Marketplace to Irvine Spectrum. And in Newport Beach, Fashion Island is getting a four-story high-end HR furniture “gallery” that will open in 2024.
A surprising casualty of pandemic-era retail closed last year at the Alton Marketplace site that Bass Pro will now occupy.
In February 2021, Wal-Mart announced it was closing what it described as an underperforming store. And a curious twist: Walmart in 2012 took over this site from Sears which had operated a short-lived home furnishings concept – the Great Indoors – at Alton Marketplace from 2001 to 2011.
Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]