Downtowners, Midtowners, Harbor Towners, and Uptowners will soon have some of the shortest drives to one of the largest selections of duck hunting gear ever assembled in America.
Bass Pro Shops officials unveiled details of their massive Pyramid project in a tour last week. They boasted that the store will, indeed, have an enormous selection of water fowling gear, maybe the biggest in the country.
It's an intended draw for duck hunters. But what about Paul Ryburn? He's a consummate Downtown Memphian whose love of living and playing in urban spaces is detailed on his blog, Paul Ryburn's Journal.
He said he's excited that Bass Pro Shops will bring more people downtown, and it will give him a reason to hang out in the Pinch District. Also, the new bowling alley inside the Pyramid will be a place he and his friends will go regularly, he said.
"For shopping, I don't know whether I am in Bass Pro's target market, but it will be nice to have a place to buy clothes without leaving Downtown," Ryburn said. "With the May 1st opening date, I will probably stop by the first week to pick up a rain jacket for Barbecue Fest."
On the outside, the Pyramid is still that shiny, sleek, modern-looking building that defines the Memphis skyline. Nearly every inch of the inside has now been rustically hewn like a vintage hunting camp in worn, knobby lumber and weathered steel, accented with antler chandeliers. Taxidermy and animal pelts line the walls, and wildlife tracks are stamped into the floors.
The inside/outside juxtaposition of the building is a lot like the demographic juxtaposition it sits in. The Mid-South's largest outdoor retail destination will be set right in the midst of perhaps the least outdoorsy people in the Mid-South. Still, many Memphis urbanites said they will go to Bass Pro when it opens.
Regena Bearden is a self-proclaimed Memphis "cheerleader" as the vice president of marketing and public relations for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. But she also lives in Harbor Town and said she hasn't heard many complaints about the Pyramid from her neighbors. But she knows there are naysayers.
"The fact that [the Bass Pro Shops] is in a really unusual place and that it's in an iconic building with a great view, people are going to be curious," Bearden said before trailing off with a shrug, "...and if [naysayers] happen to have a good time while they're there..."
Pam Mackey also lives in Harbor Town. She doesn't hunt or fish. But she's been to other Bass Pro Shops across the country. The stores are like "hunting Disney," she said, and she's been drawn to them because they looked "pretty, exciting, and entertaining."
Mackey said she'll go to the Bass Pro Shops for the peripherals — the spa, the restaurants, the wildlife, and to satisfy her curiosity.
"I'll definitely be in there when it opens, and once I go in, I'm more than likely going to buy something," Mackey said.
Construction on the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is now two-thirds complete. The attraction is now slated to open on May 1, 2015.