Published: Jan 22, 2013 12:00 PM
Modified: Jan 22, 2013 11:28 AM
CARY - That tired old joke says Cary is beige. But camouflage is making inroads.
Harrison Square shopping center, which includes Carolina Pottery, will be replaced this year by a 105,000-square-foot fishing and hunting wonderland, also known as a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
The companys not alone in western Wake County: Its competitor, Gander Mountain, opened a similar Walmart-sized store in Morrisville last year, less than four miles from the future Bass Pro location.
The Bass Pro store is slated to open near Harrison Avenue and Interstate 40 by next winter.
We look at where a huge number of sporting licenses are sold, where a lot of our catalogue orders originate, and location, location, location, said Katie Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Bass Pro.
But thats not to say that fishing and hunting are disproportionately popular in the Wake County suburbs. Its more that, like many of the areas businesses, Bass Pro and Gander Mountain were looking for a strategic location.
With prime spots near I-40, the outdoor-supply retailers can draw residents from hours around. In fact, both stores pitch themselves as destination retail, like Ikea, able to convince customers to drive from other metro areas.
Its not just the number of guns available its the stuffed deer and bears, the stocked indoor rivers, the archery ranges that fill some of the stores. Customers cant find that online.
So while the death of the big-box store has become a running theme in retail analysis, Bass Pro and Gander Mountain are hoping their stores are unique and attractive enough to sustain multi-state growth.
Were in the midst of a relatively sizeable expansion, said Jess Myers, a spokesman for Gander Mountain.
The upshot for Cary residents, then, isnt just better access to fishing rods. It may be that Bass Pro, Gander Mountain and REI, with their in-store events and specialized wares and general cool factor, will add a little life to strip malls here.
I certainly hope so, said Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. That shopping area could really need a boost. It will hopefully pull up some of those small vacant areas.
Mitchell, the Bass Pro spokeswoman, said its not uncommon for the stores presence to draw in other businesses. Bass Pro claims each of its stores puts several million people through the doors each year, making its Missouri location, for example, the most popular tourist attraction in the state. Beyond the secret art of retail economics, theres also the fact that Carys actually convenient to fishing and hunting. The Jordan Lake and Harris Lake gameland and fishing areas are just beyond the towns fringe.
So grab a fishing pole, maybe, and head west.