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Bass Pro Shops: Newest retailer in Rossford is reelin' 'em in

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Sandy Meinzer emerged from the newly opened Bass Pro Shop in Rossford yesterday after bagging her prey.

The Waterville resident was toting collapsible chairs that she and her husband, Bill, will use while watching their grandchildren s sporting events.

It was great, she said of the fishing, camping, and hunting heaven that lays claim to the crown of No. 1 outdoor retailer in America.

Two thousand people streamed through the turnstiles of the $50 million store on opening day Tuesday.

By 10 a.m. yesterday, the parking lot was already beginning to fill. The two-story store, in an area called Crossroads of America, has the equivalent of 3 football fields of space.

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Matt Johnson of Ashland, Ohio, examines hunting apparel at the new outdoors retailer, the second one in Ohio. (THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT) <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/graphics/icons/photo.gif> <font color=red><b>VIEW</font color=red></b>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20080619&Kategori=BUSINESS10&Lopenr=252838678&Ref=PH" target="_blank "><b>Bass Pro Shops opening</b></a>

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The location is south of State Rt. 795 where I-75 crosses over the Ohio Turnpike.

It s beautiful, store executive Doug Phillips said as he surveyed customers perusing merchandise that included a $700 camouflage-patterned recliner chair, $18 fishing DVD titled Girls Gone Grabblin, and 30 aisles of fishing rods.

The chain based in Springfield, Mo., expects to attract customers from far and wide to its second Ohio store.

Store officials said they aren t concerned that the opening coincides with record gasoline prices and an economic slump.

With the price of gas at $4 a gallon, people are going back to basics, and basics is fishing, hunting, and camping, said Mr. Phillips, market promotions manager in Rossford and at a Bass Pro store in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The store uses more than 3,500 area artifacts, antiques, photos, mounts, and memorabilia to create what officials describe as a living museum of the hunting, fishing, and camping legacies of Ohio.

A 20,000-gallon aquarium is stocked with fish native to the area, including smallmouth bass, walleye, and crappie.

With post-and-beam construction and a huge stone fireplace, the lobby has the look of a hunting lodge.

Interviews with customers suggest that the store could cut into the business of a rival chain store in Dundee which would likely take issue with Bass Pro s claim to be the nation s top outdoor retailer.

I live in Bowling Green and it takes me an hour to an hour and a quarter to get to Cabela s, said Sid Morris, who spends $200 a year on outdoor gear. This is 15 minutes away. What do you think I m going to do?

Scott Brough, of Woodville, said prices and selection at the two stores seemed similar.

I m kind of impressed, he said of the Bass Pro store. But this is closer to my house than Cabela s. It s going to save me a lot of gas.

The store employs 300 people. But the project is expected, as happened with Cabela s, to spur development in the area, such as hotels, stores, and other retailers.

As they waited for customers yesterday morning, a pair of clerks talked business.

He was into a six-pounder, one clerk said. .... You let it pump right through it, the other man replied. Phum! Phum!

The store s official grand opening is scheduled for July 2.

It is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, except for this Sunday, when it will close at 4 p.m. for a staff party.

Contact Gary Pakulski at: gpakulski@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.

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