This story was updated at 4:05 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, with more information.
Less than three years after Bass Pro Shops acquired its rival Cabela's, the outdoor brand retailer is closing its Cabela's stores in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and Bristol, Virginia, and combining the shuttered Cabela's with nearby Bass Pro Shops just across the state line in Tennessee.
The Cabela's store along I-75 in Fort Ogelthorpe, which opened in 2015, was shut down Monday and its staff and operations are being combined with the Bass Pro Shop at the Jordan Crossing development at Exit 1 in East Ridge, just 2.4 miles to the north on Interstate 75.
"By bringing these brands together, we can better serve our customers with greater product assortment, value and local expertise in a single location," Bass Pro said in an announcement of the Fort Oglethorpe store closing Monday. "We are currently updating the Chattanooga store at Jordon Crossing with expanded product offerings from Cabela's and new exterior and interior signage that celebrates Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, and Tracker."
Jack Wlezien, director of communications for Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Misssouri, said the company is offering jobs to "virtually all" of the displaced workers at the shuttered Cabela's store, which was built next to Costco off the Cloud Springs Road Interstate 75 exit. Wlezien said customers of Cabela's can continue to redeem Cabela's gift cards and earn or redeem points on their CLUB credit cards or Outdoor Rewards cards at Bass Pro Shops, as well as enjoy free same day in-store pickup.
The Cabela's name will be added to the East Ridge Bass Pro Shop and more than 2,500 stockkeeping units, or SKUs, will be added to the Bass Pro store at Exit 1.
"We joined forced with Cabela's in 2017 to bring these two great outdoor brands together to help customers buy from the best of the best, not necessarily to achieve consolidation savings," Wlezian said. "Over time as we have been able to study our customer preferences, they told us they love certain Cabela's products and certain Bass Pro products and if we could put them together in one location that would be viewed very positively, especially in markets the size of Chattanooga or Bristol."
The typical consumer at a Bass Pro or Cabela's travels 50 miles to shop at the store, which features hundreds of hunting, fishing and other outdoor activity items, apparel and equipment.
Bass Pro, which opened its East Ridge store in 2016, said the Exit 1 area in East Ridge is enjoying significant new developments with the planned addition of TopGolf along with several new food and dining offerings at Jordan Crossing. Across I-75 at the same exit, the owner of the Chattanooga Red Wolves, Bob Martino, is planning to build more than $150 million of new development, including a new soccer stadium complex, apartments and hotels.
Both Fort Oglethorpe and East Ridge helped lure the outdoor retailers Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops to interstate locations in their respective cities in the past by offering local tax incentives to developers that preparedd sites for the popular retailers.
Rival stores by the numbers
BASS PRO SHOP
Location: 638 Camp Jordan Parkway off Interstate 75 Exit 1
Size: 85,000 square feet
* Opened in 2016
Subsidy: $6.4 million from city of East Ridge. The city gave $4 million toward Bass Pro's construction, made $1.8 million in Camp Jordan Parkway improvements and spent $600,000 to pay off a piece of property formerly occupied by a city fire hall to help pave the way for Bass Pro.
Location: 350 Cobb Parkway next to Costco off the Cloud Springs Road Interstate 75 exit.
Size: 72,000 square feet
* Opened in 2015
Subsidy: $1.5 million from the Catoosa County Development Authority in expectation the county would get that back in sales tax and property tax revenue over seven years.
Keith Barclift, the director of economic development for Catoosa County, said the county recouped its $1.5 million investment in the site through extra property and sales tax collections five years earlier than expected and he pledged to work with state officials to help find jobs for any displaced Cabela's workers not hired for the nearby Bass Pro Shop.
Catoosa County had in place a site development agreement with the original developer of the Cabela's store property under which the Development Authority acquired the site and provided $1.5 million to the developer in exchange for the commitment by the developer to bring Cabela's to the site and construct a retail outlet to create jobs and sales tax revenue.
"The developer's obligation was backed by a bank letter of credit to ensure that any unmet financial performance goals would be recouped," Barclift said. "Under the site development agreement, the developer's financial performance goals were to be met on or before May 2022."
Barclift said that the terms of the agreement were fulfilled by the end of 2017.
"Not only have the developer's obligations been met and the Development Authority's site development costs been re-paid, the sales and property tax revenues from the Cabela's Site have exceeded any financial investment made by the Development Authority," he said.
Similar to the closing of the Fort Ogelthorpe Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop also closed its Cabela's store in Bristol, Virginia on Monday. That Bristol Cabel's was built just over the state line in Virginia eight miles from a nearby Bass Pro Shop in the Pinnacle shopping center along Interstate 81 in Bristol, Tennessee.
"We are currently expanding the Outdoor World store at The Pinnacle in Bristol, Tennessee with additional product offerings from Cabela's and new exterior and interior signage that celebrates Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, and Tracker " Bass Pro Shops said in a statement.
Randy Eads, city manager for Bristol, Virgini, called Cabela's closing in his city " disappointing news."
"I want to ensure the citizens of the city of Bristol that this is a speed bump that we will overcome," he said in a statement.
Since its merger with Cabela's in September, 2017, Bass Pro has previously closed only one other Cabela's at a site in Canada, Wlezian said
Bass Pro Shops will continue operates 169 Bass Pro and Cabela's stores
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.