It’s hard to fathom bass fishing and fishing in general without Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops. In fact, they’ve been around so long there are a couple generations of anglers that haven’t lived without the ability to thumb through the giant catalogs or now venture online and make an order. Hard to believe, huh?
Prior to 1974, Bass Pro Shops had been in business for a couple years but only through the Brown Derby Mercantile in Springfield, MO. Then in ’74, the bass fishing world was turned on its ear when Morris sent out his first mail order catalog.
Prior to this catalog, an angler could order gear from Herters and even Sears and Roebuck but the bass tackle in each of these catalogs wasn’t complete and in the case of the S&R catalog, hidden between toilet bowl wax rings and ladies undergarments.
I’ve never seen a 1974 Bass Pro Shops catalog – my first one was from 1976 – but I can imagine how it was received. I’m sure many a wife lost her husband to the “crapper” for extended amounts of time and their checkbooks probably became a little lighter with checks sent to this once liquor store in Springfield, MO.
Well, after 40 years Johnny Morris has grown Bass Pro Shops and has become part of the American Dream. Take something from nothing and not only grow a good life but an empire. It took a lot of hard work and sound business savvy, I’m sure. What amazes me is in the early days, he competed on the B.A.S.S. Trail and qualified for five straight Bassmaster Classics between 1972 and 1976. He left the Trail in 1977 for what appears to be obvious reasons – he had a heck of a business to run.
Congratulations to Johnny Morris and staff for making it this far. We hope your 40th Anniversary is just the beginning.