I clambered into a suspensionless, musty old cab outside the train station in Harrisburg, Pa., more in hope than expectation. The chances that my driver would know the location of an outdoor-sports store that opened that morning seemed slim.
But the driver was several steps ahead of me.
"Ah, yes, Bass Pro," he said. "It's fantastic. It'll bring a lot of business to town."
Bass Pro Shops of Springfield, Mo., is a $1 billion dollar business, growing about 15 percent annually. It has the kind of reputation among customers that most retailers only fantasize about. Its cavernous stores are like hunting lodges on steroids.
The stores have endless racks of guns and fishing rods, and kits for any outdoor pursuit. They have attractions such as wildlife mounts, a shooting range, a NASCAR simulator, a tank of fish (mainly bass) and a climbing wall.
The privately owned chain of 28 stores, including three that opened in the past two months, attracts vacationers and even honeymooners as well as locals. I could not find a customer who offered anything but praise for it. It's considered such a draw that New York spent four years and $60 million to lure a Bass Pro store to Buffalo.