The Bass that got away

Outdoor retailer bows out of CSRA plans -- but hopefully not for good

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We’re as disappointed as anyone in Bass Pro Shops’ decision to abandon plans for an Augusta-area store.

It seemed almost too good to be true that Bass Pro, and then Cabela’s – two retail heavyweights in outdoor equipment and supplies – would announce new stores here within a day of each other, which they did July 24 and 25.

As it turns out, it was too good to be true.

Bass Pro Shops apparently told Columbia County authorities on Friday – and after sleeping on it a few days, Columbia County officials told the public on Tuesday – that Bass would indeed not be building and
manning a 50,000-square-foot outpost near I-20 and Flowing Wells Road.

Apparently Bass has looked at it and determined that Augusta isn’t big enough for the both of them. The day after Bass announced its planned store July 24, Cabela’s unveiled its plans for a 42,000-square-foot outlet near Costco at the Village at Riverwatch commercial development – where Bass had originally intended to locate before the 2008 economic collapse.

Essentially, Cabela’s beat Bass Pro to its own fishing hole.

The latest news means more than 200 jobs that won’t be coming here, as well as untold tax revenues from the famously well-attended store.

Still, it’s disappointing as well to hear of Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross’ response to the news:

“Bass Pro Shops is afraid of Ca­bela’s and won’t be coming to Co­lum­bia County,” Cross said. “A contract was signed, but they decided it wasn’t in their interest to proceed with it. I think we have learned they are not really honorable people.”

Really? It’s dishonorable for a business to adjust to shifting conditions?

Actually, it happens all the time, and thank goodness for that. Businesses need the ability to keep their ear to the ground, to change directions and to protect their best interests. That’s how they stay in business. That’s how they create and maintain jobs. That’s how they earn the money to pay taxes to fine folks such as Chairman Cross.

We think that was his abject disappointment speaking, and not him.

The greater Augusta area, led by Columbia County, is growing by the day. The time may not be far off when it becomes obvious this town is big enough for both retailers after all.

If so, they will be more than welcome.

In the meantime, we have no doubt leaders such as Chairman Cross will keep creating the conditions that are both conducive to growth and attractive to the best retailers on the planet.

And going forward, Augusta has the opportunity to prove that it’s a great fit for outdoor outfitters.

Comments (6) Add comment
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Riverman1
84130
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Riverman1 10/03/13 - 07:39 am
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Government Subsidy for Retail Business is Unfair

I believe Cross was right to express the frustration representative of the county. The conditions of Bass Pro building here had been met. The store had announced they were coming, but then they come back with more demands. Sure they can legally back out, but this is the second time it’s been done here. Have they ever backed out after making an announcement in another city? Not that I can find.

BP was given many incentives, but this whole concept of recruiting retail stores of any kind with financial incentives is suspect. This was not an industrial concern moving here with outside funds and jobs. This was a store that wanted to take money from the area.

We have great sporting goods stores paying their way in Columbia County and West Augusta already. Academy Sports, Dicks and others shouldn't have to face government subsidized competition that takes from their businesses. Subsidizing private concerns should only be done with businesses that create jobs that are not siphoning retail customers in the area.

Riverman1
84130
Points
Riverman1 10/03/13 - 06:56 am
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How Deke Would Handle It

How Deke would have handled it.

“Yes, Sir, we will do anything you want to make this happen. Sales tax? We don’t need no stinkin tax for y’all. You want your own parking lot? We’ll build you a parking garage like we did for the Marriott. Please, please open a store in our economically deprived area. You can even call it a slum if you want and use that to show how you help deprived areas with your business. Competition with Dick’s Sporting Goods? We will always keep your taxes so low that they’ll never be able to survive with y’all and the money you will be making. We will even provide a police car weekly to drive the money you take out of the area back to Missouri. Do you sell Speedos? Real tight ones?”

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 10/03/13 - 08:50 am
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Bass Pro Shops not coming ?

meh

So who you got tonight River? Buffalo or Cleveland

Riverman1
84130
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Riverman1 10/03/13 - 09:44 am
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Atlanta

Atlanta

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 10/03/13 - 02:59 pm
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Hoping Atlanta vs Cleveland

Hoping Atlanta vs Cleveland for the WS.

Riverman1
84130
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Riverman1 10/03/13 - 10:38 pm
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Appears Ron Cross Was Right

As all the facts have come out and as I've been saying since the news broke, it appears Ron Cross had good reason to react the way he did. We need an editorial in support of the action Columbia County took when they declined the ten million dollar additional payout now that you know everything.

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