The Outsider: Retail therapy

By Will Jones – The Outsider | July 4, 2019

Have you ever been to the Bass Pro Store or Cabelas?
Have you wandered down the miles of aisles of gleaming outdoors gear, jaw dropped in awe at the sheer amount of stuff that there is to buy? And if you have been to any of these stores or similarly gargantuan temples to hunting, fishing, boating and camping, did you come away with almost nothing in your shopping cart?

I have and I did. Whenever I go to Toronto, I get excited by a trip to Bass Pro but every time, when I get inside, I am so overwhelmed by the whole experience – from the 15 aisles of fishing lures to the stuffed mountain lion looking down upon me and the pool with live trout in it – that I panic. My initial glee at walking through the entrance, with those giant moose antler door handles, quickly gives way to nervous tension and downright panic as I wander lost among boating supplies and fishing equipment that I never even knew existed, never mind understand how to use. Eventually, to save face, I buy another ball cap, one of those giant barrels of Cheezies and a couple of bass flies, and then skedaddle, relieved to be outside again without having been swallowed up by the Bass Pro ‘experience’.

My trip to Bass Pro is always disappointing and I’m always a little annoyed that I didn’t handle it better, ‘this time’, but, as I drive away, I begin to form a plan. And that plan is always the same. I’ll go see Norm and Karen at Outdoors Plus.

You see, buying outdoors gear needs to feel good and for me that does not come from traipsing past miles of tackle, tents and targets forlornly hoping to bump into what I need. I’m the kind of guy who likes a chat and a chortle while shopping. I like the proprietor to be on hand to answer the myriad questions I still have about fishing and hunting. I like to be able to ask for a thingummy and know that my lopsided description of an as yet unnamed piece of equipment that I once saw a guy use on TV will be understood, gently poked fun at and then rewarded with said item being produced from within the Aladdin’s cave of treasures that are stocked at this small local store.


I like too that within the walls of their unassuming tackle shop, Norm and Karen seem to have everything, absolutely everything, just like Bass Pro but not at all like Bass Pro. Here, items don’t blur into a haze of unidentified colours as I walk the aisles, here they pop out like jewels on the rock wall of the cave owned by the aforementioned Aladdin. And if they are hidden too well for my roving eye, Norm or Karen will conjure them up just like Haliburton’s very own wish-granting genies.

It’s magic, the whole experience and so much more fun than that drive to the city. So, next time you think about that trip to the monster outdoors store, think again and shop local because the experience will be much more pleasing, and chortling Norm might even tell you the odd lewd joke, too.

Get The Highlander in your inbox every Thursday