Bass Pro Shop Store Review

A Different Kind of Entertainment

When you are on a combination of tight budget and physical limitations, you have limited options for recreation: you make do with what you can find, and revel in memories.

Today, August 6, 2012, we indulged in just such an outing. About an hour from where we live, and relatively near one of my daughters, there is a Bass Pro Shop store. Who knew window-shopping could be such fun?

A Nice Artificial River Graces the Exterior

I got a kick out of the entryway welcome sign which reads, "Welcome Fishermen, Hunters and Other Liars."
I got a kick out of the entryway welcome sign which reads, "Welcome Fishermen, Hunters and Other Liars."

One of Several Drive-Through Trees

What's So Darned Interesting?

Well, for one thing, variety. There is something here for literally everyone to see shop for and enjoy. Even my daughter and young granddaughters love this place, and they are don't even go hunting or fishing. They go camping sometimes.

The appeal is in the size of the place, the layout and the decor. You enter into a lobby, and then go into the store proper through a near-life-sized replica of one of California's huge Redwood Trees. It is made to look as if the tunnel through the tree was partially burned out, and then carved out. If you have been up the Redwood Highway in our Golden State, you may have driven through one of the the many trees that inspired the replica.

Given that they have so many locations, and Redwood Trees are exclusive to California, I suspect that each store's entry probably represents something local to the respective areas.

Literally Something For Everyone

Once inside the store, your senses will be momentarily overwhelmed trying to decide which way to go first. This is a very large store with two floors. There are more tree replicas, and nearly every display shelf has some sort of nature diorama with assorted animals.

There are animals everywhere you look. As all of it is taxidermy, I was not so impressed with that aspect. (Animal lover that I am, I prefer to hunt with my camera, and don't like to see animals hunted for recreational purposes. But that's a whole other article.) Nonetheless, the displays were well-done natural-looking settings with rock outcroppings, vegetation and water.

Looking across the store from upper level at the mural surrounding the waterfall and fish tank
Looking across the store from upper level at the mural surrounding the waterfall and fish tank
"Anglers" trying their luck
"Anglers" trying their luck
A Striped Bass in the huge tank--image is blurry due to a combination of motion, water and thick glass
A Striped Bass in the huge tank--image is blurry due to a combination of motion, water and thick glass
Looking down into fish tank from behind waterfall
Looking down into fish tank from behind waterfall
Looking up to the "headwaters" of the waterfall
Looking up to the "headwaters" of the waterfall

Yes, water. At the rear of the first floor, you come to a pond/creek display with a bridge, and "anglers" in their waders, and fishing. Across the bridge, there is a huge fish tank housing several varieties of fish including Striped Bass and Sturgeon. The front viewing window of the tank is concave to help withstand the pressure of the thousands of gallons of water it must hold. The thing is huge. As you stand on the floor, you are looking up to about a height of 10 feet to the upper edge of the tank, and it is at least 15 feet wide! A waterfall pours into the top of the tank.

To the right is a flight of stairs taking you up past the top of the tank, from which vantage point you can see the glass is four inches thick! On the landing, you are between two sections of the waterfall; still looking up to the very "headwaters," and down into the tank.

The stairs continue and curve around to the left, taking you into a rock grotto behind the waterfall. As you emerge, you find yourself on the second floor near the camping equipment section. Gosh--and you didn't even notice you were climbing stairs!

If the stairs are too much for you, though, there are a pair of glass-walled elevators to whisk you up topside. (You can just see the edge of them to the right of the pond with the "anglers," top photo in this section.)


An Outdoorsman's (or Woman's) Department Store

There are departments dedicated to just about every outdoor activity you can think of, and each department is the size of an entire smaller store in itself.

If it's fishing boats you want, yep, they have them, and a decent-sized selection at that. You can choose from Jon Boats, Go-Fast Bass Boats, or Pontoon-Platform "party barges."

There are also ATV's, canoes, kayaks and fishing floats. I'd never seen fishing floats before. I don't mean the kind you attach to your fishing line so you can see it (apparently, those are called "bobbers,"), but these are like chairs made of netting, and fastened between inflatable pontoons or arms of the chair. You sit in comfort in the middle of a river, and don't have to worry about being knocked off your feet by currents or slippery rocks. What will they think of next?

Here's a list of as many of the departments as I can remember:

  • Clothing
  • Climbing Gear
  • Gold Panning
  • ATV's
  • Air-Soft and Paintball

  • Camping
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Archery
  • Boating

The granddaughters try on an ATV for size
The granddaughters try on an ATV for size
What a "deer" little bench the girls found...
What a "deer" little bench the girls found...

What Is That Delicious Smell?

Ah, yes! The aroma. A large section of the store is permeated by the aroma of good things to eat, for in the front corner is a small, old-fashioned confectionery shop, making fresh fudge on-site as well as kettle corn.

They also stock a selection of old-fashioned candies, both hard and soft, as well as some of the stuff that appeals to the youth of today, such as "gummy worms" and sours. For the adult palate, there is a wide variety of cooking spices and barbecue sauces. You can choose Jalapeno Ketchup, or a hot sauce bearing the label "100% Pain." Wow--sounds like you might need a fire extinguisher handy with that one!

A markerBass Pro Shop Store -
1356 Bass Pro Dr, Manteca, CA 95337, USA
[get directions]

All photos by Liz Elias © 8-6-2012

Where Are They?

There are a great many branches of this store, mostly in the Eastern United States and the "Deep South" States as well as in Arizona. There are only two in California--the one we visited in Manteca, and another in southern CA, in Rancho Cucamonga. They also have a branch in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

This particular store is located at 1356 Bass Pro Drive in Manteca, CA. It's inside a large shopping center accessed via South Union Street at the corner of Atherton Road. State route 120 is the nearest freeway, but it's not terribly far from Interstate Highway 5, either.

The store's website gives a history of their origins. They started out in 1971 when young man became frustrated with a lack of selection in good fishing tackle near where he lived. So, he got a trailer and set out to load it up with the best stuff he could find from all over. The rest, as they say....

Have You Ever Been to a Bass Pro Shops Store?

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Comments 15 comments

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Great hub, DZ! My hubby loves to take our son to both the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's. While they are ogling the men's stuff, I check out all the cool stuff for the ladies. :) They do indeed have something for everyone! :)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

The men in our family think this is the best place to go. We go to Arkansas for a visit they figure out one day for them to head over to Springfield, Mo just to go to Bass Pro.

Voted up on your hub.


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

A very through and well written review!

I live about one hour from Manteca and have seen this store.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I have never been to one of these, but we do have Cabela's and it is very similar to this....and it is fascinating to visit that store. Great job; now I want to see one.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ TToombso8—Thanks very much; I’m glad you liked the article. I have trouble in stores like this; there is just so much to look at, and I want to see it all. Truthfully and practically, you can’t really take it all in on a single visit. This was my first time—I know it won’t be the last, and hopefully, next trip I’ll have some extra pocket change and can buy something.

@ moonlake—LOL, that’s quite a detour your menfolk take to visit a store. I can see where it is worthwhile. It’s an hour from us, and I probably never would have discovered it if my daughter didn’t live in the general area. Thanks very much for the comment and the vote!

@ Curiad—Thank you so much. I’m pleased you found the review well done. If I recall, you said you lived north of us, up toward the Capitol, so for you, it’s a straight shot down 5. We had to do some zig-zagging from where we live—there is no “as the crow flies” route. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

@ billybuc—Thanks for sharing. I’ve never heard of a “Cabela’s,” and had never heard of Bass Pro, either, until my daughter discovered it. Gosh—they even carry infrared cameras. I suppose they are meant for hunters, but I’d repurpose them to ghost hunting. ;-) They cost much less than the ones you see advertised for capturing ghosts. (I guess it’s a “take advantage of the TV fans” kind of thing, there.) I appreciate your comment; thank you.


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Lizzy,

Great review on an awesome place! I love window shopping here! It is one of those places I can visit and stay for several hours and then leave without purchasing anything but still feeling satisfied! LOL

Thanks for sharing Lizzy!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, josh3418, Thanks so much--I appreciate your praiseful comment, especially coming from someone who's been to one of these stores and knows 'the deal.' I know what you mean about enjoying the experience without buying anything...although, I'm sure that's not what the management wants to hear... LOL


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Where is my brain at? I thought this sounded familiar. I won't tell how far i read when I said "I've been there". good article.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Mhatter99,

LOL.. I've had days like that, and the older I get the more often I have 'days like that.' I'm pleased you enjoyed the article; thanks for your comment, and your bravery in admitting to a 'senior moment.' I'm glad I'm not alone in that.... ;-) (snicker)


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

Interesting hub, and it was probably much more fun than going to Walmart! They had a Bass Pro shop where we used to live and I kept saying we'd go, but never did. I think they finally went out of business. Now, of course, I wish I'd gone! Well done and voted up.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi there, Ann1Az2;

It was a lot more fun than "Wally World," for sure! I'm surprised you say it seems to have gone out of business. It's a huge franchise, and a single store going under would seem to point to either poor management or poor choice of location.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing, and I'm pleased you enjoyed the article. Thanks, too, for the vote!


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

I'm not really sure what happened. I think, as you say, it might have been the location. They put it right in the middle of a huge shopping mall. Most people shopping for clothes, etc., are not going to stop into a place like Bass Pro. At least, not this one. It was strictly a store - it didn't have all the extras on the outside like the one you describe.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Wow, Ann,

That's weird. This one, too, is in a huge mall. It's down at one end, though, and nearer the side-street entrance than the main one. The mall seems pretty new, and not all (or many) other stores were open--a lot of vacant slots, so this store may have gotten the jump on the business. ... Either that, or there is a lot more interest in their products in that area, and they survived when others went under. Even though we went there on a window-shopping/sightseeing tour, I saw a number of things I would have bought anyway, if I'd brought money with me.. ;-)


Kimberly Vaughn profile image

Kimberly Vaughn 3 years ago from Midwest

I went to college in Springfield, Missouri. The Bass Pro Shops Headquarters are located there. So, of course, they had a great location there. In fact, anytime I had people come visit me from out of town they always wanted to go visit the store!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Kimberly Vaughn,

Oh, how fun, to have lived near the HQ. That must have been fun--I know we always liked to show visitors the "non-touristy" insider stuff in San Francisco when I was growing up...I guess this would be a similar thing to do.

Thanks so much for your 'insider' perspective.

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