Over the course of time here we’ve posted a few stories about tackle shops and their successes and/or failures. For example, we posted a couple of stories on Ma-n-Pa shops and how they used to be the glue that held local anglers together in their community and how they’ve all but disappeared.
We’ve also posted some pieces on Johnny Morris and the early years of his now world-famous Bass Pro Shops, born from a $10,000 loan from his father and a corner in his liquor store, the Brown Derby. His success, started in the early 70s, grew by leaps and bounds within the first few years when, in 1974 he printed his first real mail order catalog of around 200 pages. By 1976 he was advertising in any and every outdoors magazine and even selling pre-rigged aluminum bass boats. Bass Pro Shops these days is a Fortune 100 company and a worldwide heavy hitter in the outdoor industry.
Then a couple weeks ago we posted a piece on the Fishing Facts crew’s mail order shop, Northwoods. In the day the mail order competition was the Sears Roebuck catalog and the Bass Pro catalog. Looking through the catalog there was a lot of cool gear and while it bested the Sears catalog by a long shot, it couldn’t hold a candle to the BPS catalog.
One such shop that always made me wonder, though, was the B.A.S.S. tackle shop and mail order catalog, The Outhouse. Started sometime around 1972 or ’73, The Outhouse and some of its goods could be seen in nearly every issue of Bassmaster. They had a small leaflet they’d print and send to members and if I remember correctly, they even had a decent catalog at one time.
They offered nearly everything the bass angler could ask for, including hard-to-find tackle like Okiebug and Zorro spinnerbaits and Action Worms.
I also have wondered if Ray Scott didn’t start this “mail-order turned franchise-business” to compete with Johnny Morris or if he started it just because it seemed like a good business decision. In any event, I’ve always wondered why, with all the captive eyeballs Ray had, The Outhouse didn’t succeed past the mid-80s. Was it because Johnny Morris was just that much better at marketing? Was it because Ray Scott and B.A.S.S. had bigger, more important fish to fry? I have no clue.
I think I made about 10 orders from the leaflets over the course of about 5 years. I seem to remember always getting my gear – albeit it took forever it seemed because you had to send your order in an envelope, wait for the postmaster to deliver it, wait for The Outhouse crew to fill the order and then send it back out with the postmaster – man the internet sure is nice, isn’t it?
So, is there anyone out there who knows of what happened to The Outhouse? Is there anyone out there that actually took Ray and gang up on opening a franchise shop? Is there anyone out there who has any of the old leaflets or catalogs? If so, we’d like to hear from you.