by: Brenda Young / Round Rock Leader
City officials say the shopping, dining and entertainment features offered by Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World’s newest location, to open June 10, are sure to have residents and visitors hooked on having fun.
The store’s general manager, Asa Ewing, said the company was looking to expand its presence in Texas, and the choice to build the 121,000-square-foot facility in Round Rock came down to simply a matter of location.
“It’s a privilege for us to be here, and we’re happy to be a part of the community. We were looking for another opportunity in Texas, and I think it’s a great location for Bass Pro Shops and the city of Round Rock,” Ewing said. “Another good thing about our store is it’s tailored to our community. It would be difficult to go into another Bass Pro and find a lot of similarities to the Round Rock location.”
To appeal to Bass Pro Shops, City Council in 2013 approved a tax incentive plan worth up to $4.5 million spanning the next four years. A portion of the sales tax revenue generated by each sale at store cash registers will allow for a yearly reimbursement cap of $500,000 for site improvements, as the plan did not include any property tax abatements.
Ewing said the store will employ close to 300 staff members, and recruiting efforts are still underway onsite at the 200 Bass Pro Drive location, north of Round Rock Premium Outlets.
City officials have worked closely with entities such as the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and Texas Department of Transportation in the effort of addressing financial and safety concerns.
“What this does for the city is it gives us another destination retailer,” Round Rock Communications Director Will Hampton said. “In the late 2000s, the City Council was looking to diversify sources of sales tax revenue and they wanted to bring in more businesses that people had to travel some distance to get to. The idea was born, and we started working with our partners at the Round Rock Chamber to recruit those kinds of retailers.
“A secondary benefit is this gives our local folks more places to shop, provides more jobs for the economy and will draw more people into the city. Bass Pro is really an important piece of the puzzle because people will drive 150 miles to visit a Bass Pro and typically spend up to three hours inside before moving on to visit other local destinations.”
Corporate officials say this location, the seventh in Texas, was designed to be a combination of museum, art gallery, antique store, gift shop, aquarium, supplier of outdoor equipment/apparel and boat/marine showroom.
Inside the store, décor includes hand-painted murals which depict scenes of Central Texas. The lobby is designed to resemble a Texas trophy room, with museum-quality wildlife mounts of species from around the country. It will include white-tailed deer, elk, and record game fish mounts.
In addition to the 3D exhibits throughout the store, a 12,000-gallon freshwater aquarium is stocked with a variety of Texas bass and species native to the state’s rivers and streams. It features a multi-level waterfall surrounded by elk, black bear, mountain lion and bighorn ram exhibits.
“Bass Pro Shops invests a lot in researching the outdoor traditions and shopping needs of the area. It’s such a huge investment, and there are many factors that go into creating each location,” Bass Pro Marketing Representative Katie Mitchell said.
Bass Pro Shops will also feature a casual dining and entertainment area. Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill will serve customers from a menu of sandwiches, burgers and salads, and includes a 16-lane bowling alley designed to look as if inside an aquarium.