Don Brashears’ Pro Bass Shop

Don Brashears' Pro Bass Shop #1 ad circa 1974.

Don Brashears’ Pro Bass Shop #1 ad circa 1974.

I’ve only been to Missouri once and that was about a 5-hour stay – total. I rolled into Springfield one morning around 5:00 a.m., got a hotel for two hours, woke up and headed to Mountain Home, AR to pick up a boat. On the way home, I stopped again in Springfield to visit the original Bass Pro Shops and three hours later (and about $300 lighter) I headed back across the plains to Idaho  – boat in tow.

The more I read and talk to people, though, the more I wish I’d grown up in the Missouri/Arkansas/Kansas area. I mean I’d always noticed that a lot of the greats in bass fishing history hailed from the Midwest but I never really knew much other than that. Heck, great bass fishermen can come from anywhere – even a state thought to have limited bass fishing such as Idaho. Well, in my early years, the Midwest may as well have been Idaho for all I knew.

But like I said earlier, the more I become familiar with bass fishing nationally, the more I’m learning that the Midwest was a hotbed for not only great bass fishing but also great bass tackle stores.

A little while ago I was reading one of the early American Angler magazines I have and noticed this ad for Don Brashears’ Pro Bass Shop. The date of the magazine was 1974 and it looks like it’d been around long before Johnny started what we know today as BPS.

Having never heard of the store, let alone visited it, I can tell from the looks of this picture/ad that I would have liked it a lot. Boats out in front of the shop, boats in the shop, ample tackle in the aisles and a big sign shaped like an arrow with the words BASS PRO SHOP #1 emblazoned in white inside a red background. I can smell the Jelly Worms and live minnows and see the 10-year-old Kodak fish pictures taped to the glass on the front counter as I type this.

A couple of things caught me with this ad. One was the business hours. The shop was open six days a week, Monday through Thursday noon to 10:00 p.m., Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. and Saturday noon to midnight. I bet they not only sold a ton of gear it was THE place to hang out in the area before and after hitting the lake – and I would bet a few beers were consumed during those BS sessions.

The second thing that caught my eye was the #1 on the sign after the Pro Bass Shop. Being it was in Missouri and another shop was starting to make waves around that time a little south of Raytown, I wonder if Mr. Brashears was trying to put some pressure on that new shop or was just trying to let the traveling bassman know his store was around first? Maybe I’m making things up in my head. In any event, I found it interesting.

I’m sure there are some of you readers out there that either remember this shop or actually even were customers of the place. If so, what do you remember about the shop and was it all I’ve made it out to be in my head?

  • Dwight Keefer

    Don Brashear’s was a customer and friend of mine. I believe Don was originally from the Rogers, Arkansas area and owned a number of gas stations in the KC area. His Fishing Store was directly across the street from one of those gas stations. Don fished the BASS for several years and his fishing store lasted about 3-4 years and Frank Fensom then leased the property. Frank was the former Shakespeare Rep in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa before opening his own fishing store in the former Brashear’s location. Frank obtained the Ranger dealership in the area and still holds the Table Rock Lake record Largemouth Bass at 11+#.

    However, Fincke Tackle was still the place to hang out. And yes I am probably biased as I worked there for 8 years until I graduated from college, lol.

    Dwight Keefer

  • Louie Brashears

    I am so blown away to find an article about my stepfather Don O. Brashears. I changed my last name to Brashears as a gift to the wonderful man that took the Father roll in my life. Bass pro shops owes their famous logo to my Dads first design. I have many great memories of The Pro Bass fisherman who taught me how to be a man and welcome any questions or correspondance. Dad passed on in 1990. and is resting in peace in his boyhood town of Rogers, Arkansas. I am now 51 and just getting back into my love of fishing!!

  • Louie Brashears

    would like to hear from you