The newest Bass Pro Shop takes a decided departure from the big box outlet look of the company's first stores. With their pared-down fixturing and decoratives, and suspended pendants and fluorescents, the previous stores were dressed in a plain paper wrapper, while offering one of the largest selections of fishing and hunting gear in the world. This latest store is a 130,000-sq.-ft. (11,700 sq. m) sportsman's paradise, with surprises that include a 20,000-gallon aquarium, a mill area with a working water wheel, and the now-standard shopping diversion--a cafe.
Just outside of Chicago, the Gurnee Mills Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World makes an adventure out of finding the right campfire cookbook in the home gifts department or picking out a rod at the White River Fly Shop. Already well-known to serious and amateur hunters and fishermen, the Springfield, MO-based retailer has broadened its goal to compete with the world of retail-as-entertainment. A shooting/archery range and children's shooting arcade join the retailer's fishing, hunting, golf, and camping staples.
"This was a new departure for them; they're an icon and many people treat going to a Bass Pro Shop as a pilgrimage," explains Ronald Kurtz of Randy Burkett Lighting Design in St. Louis. The experience now matches the expectation. From the stone-and-timber gabled exterior leading the way to a cozy fireside lounge to the habitat of wildlife around each corner, the store is now an inviting retreat--a place customers want to linger in and explore.
As lead project designer, Kurtz added warmth to the new atmosphere with a combination of lighting, dominated by high color-rendering (HCR) ceramic arc-tube metal-halide lamps. "There are two general lighting systems," he says. "The way we approached this was to blend ambient lighting with accent lighting, then include special feature lighting for thematic identity." The nearby Great Lakes helped form the store's theme--a hunting lodge from a forgotten era. Kurtz's choice of Philips MasterColor metal-halide lamps was dictated by a need for both color rendering and intensity. It certainly helped that Bass Pro decision-makers had seen a demonstration of the system, which provides a CRI in the mid-80s. "It's probably the best color-rendering halide on the market," he says.
Visible from a major interstate running from Chicago to Milwaukee, the Gurnee Mills store maximizes its exposure with Abolite's RLM sign-lighters as the primary facade illumination. "And we wanted warmth, so the undersides of the canopies have RLM reflectors with long-life incandescents."
The idea was to accentuate the rustic look. Under the canopy, incandescent RLMs were used; for accents, quartz halogen PARs were placed underneath the gables. Most of the exterior accent lighting focuses on stone columns around the structure to enhance the rusticity, using metal-halides in direct burial lights. Accent lighting illuminates featured boats.
Inside, there are two main drive aisles. From the mall, the main walkway has a large, peaked area with dormer windows to allow natural light. From the exterior entrance, the walkway is opened up with daylight from the clerestory windows. They also provide light for the entry's focal point--a 20,000-gallon polygonal aquarium.
Individually designed chandeliers support the Great Lakes lodge theme and provide strong focal points for several departments. "Communication Arts came up with early renditions of the chandeliers," says Kurtz. "We worked with them initially, and then with Bass Pro to finalize the look.
"An important design element here is discovery," he emphasizes. "Every chandelier is different." At first glance, they may appear identical, but each provides small delights for the eye: one may have bear paw prints, while another is stamped with a deer hoof pattern.
At the main entry, the focus is on three dauntingly large chandeliers of translucent glass veined with "twigs" and encircled with moose and deer heads. Wall-mounted wildlife and outdoor photography and art are highlighted with metal-halide track lights.
In the Apparel department, chandeliers repeat the look of the main entrance domes, with the added detail of fishing lures caught in the twigs. Ceramic arc-tube metal-halides are used for ambient lighting, while tungsten-halogens and more halides provide accent lighting. "This creates an inviting, warm effect and complements the deep, rich woods of the design," Kurtz explains.
In Hunting Apparel, three chandeliers are each topped with translucent material in the form of a tepee, covered with Native American images. MasterColors afforded good color rendering in both accent and ambient lighting for the department.
"In Marine and Fishing, intensity was key," says Kurtz. That came through with 3k metal-halides for ambient and HCR metal halides for accent lighting. An Adirondack-themed pattern along the perimeter ceiling in Fishing is emphasized with track lighting tucked up under the gables. In Camping, the themed lighting element mimics a Coleman lantern. "Inside the lanterns are compact fluorescents encased in fabric to look like the mantles in a Coleman," he says.
The Mill area includes a pond with a footbridge. "The idea is that you stumble across them while walking through the woods," says Kurtz. Track lighting is used to create the illusion of light streaming through the trees. Light projectors with a standard breakup pattern taken slightly out of focus add to the realism.
In the Gift/Home department, which has a lower ceiling than the rest of the store, rustic beams and recessed quartz halogen accent lights give a residential feel. Three chandeliers crafted from naturally shed antlers are the feature lighting elements, and perimeter track lighting rounds out the design. "It's a very homey area," says Kurtz, "so there's not a lot of ambient lighting in this space."
The main checkout area is framed with kerosene lantern fixtures using a quartz halogen source. Though not so much functional as whimsical, the lanterns flash on and off to signal a need for price checks. Dropped RLMs with compact fluorescents provide the area's ambient lighting.
The Gurnee Mills store is the fifth retail center for Bass Pro Shops, but the project provided a lot of firsts. "This was the first time for a Bass Pro to incorporate outdoor elements to this extent, and it was a first for us working so closely with the retailer to develop them," says Kurtz. "This is a big learning curve for Bass Pro Shops"--with more curves around the corner.
Opening this month, a store based in Dania, FL, outside of Fort Lauderdale, is the first being built as a standalone. And in 1999, a Concord, NC, store will open, featuring a NASCAR theme. Located two miles east of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Concord store will be connected to a 300-plus-room Outdoor World-Embassy Suites Hotel.
Another hotel joint venture will be at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. Slated to open in 2000, that Outdoor World will be the anchor tenant for Festival Bay, a 1,074,800-sq.-ft. (96,732 sq. m) retail development from Belz Enterprises.
Currently, Bass Pro Shops has stores in Springfield, MO, Atlanta, Chicago, and Islamorada, FL. Construction is underway for a Grapevine Mills store near Dallas, and plans are in the works for ones in Detroit and Houston. Clearly, the great outdoors is the in place to be in retail.
Anne-Marie Fanguy is an Atlanta-based retail design writer.
Owner Bass Pro Shops Springfield, MO
Lighting Designer Randy Burkett Lighting Design Ronald Kurtz, IALD, associate and lead project designer
EQUIPMENT LIST Casework Accent: RSA Lighting, Ardee Chandeliers: Back Country Antler Works, Arroyo Craftsman Custom Pendants: Charles Loomis, Bass Pro Shops Decorative and Thematic: Belfer, Abolite, Bega, Visa, Back Country Antler Works, Arroyo Craftsman Decorative RLMs: Abolite Downlighting: Kurt Versen, Holophane, Edison Price Exterior: Greenlee, Spero, Stonco, Kim Lamps: Philips, GE, Osram Sylvania Track Lighting/Accents: LSI Theatrical: ETC Uplighting: Elliptipar, Belfer Wallwash: Elliptipar, Insight