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?