EXCLUSIVE: The founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris, says that despite inflation, the hunting, fishing and outdoor sporting brand will remain focused on affordability heading into boating and fishing seasons.

Inflation remains high at 3.4%, above the Fed’s 2% goal, though it dropped from its peak of 9.1% in June 2022.

“Inflation is here. It’s real,” Morris told FOX Business during a video interview.

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In April, energy prices rose for the third month in a row, and the cost of gas increased by 2.8%, according to the Labor Department’s consumer price index (CPI).

Bass Pro Shops ended an inflation buster savings program in late 2023, but the brand maintains its promise to work with consumers on belt-tightening opportunities to combat elevated inflation burning holes through American’s pockets.

“We worked hard, and we still focus on affordability,” Morris said of starting Bass Pro decades ago.

Bass Pro Shops offers consumers payment plans as low as $5 and $10 per day to make the dream of owning a boat a reality for just about anyone.

“My dad was big on delivering value to customers,” Morris said. “One of his sayings to me every day was, ‘Johnny, it’s not worth any more on your shelf than it is your competitors.’”

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Bass Pro Shops boats

Morris, a Missouri native, proudly referred to a framed advertisement of the original Bass Pro Shops boat, a Bass Tracker, hanging behind him that retailed for $2,995.

“We broke through by delivering remarkable value to fishermen and to anglers,” he said. “That’s something that we’re focused on. We build boats right here in the Ozarks — most of them — sell them direct, and we have a few great select dealers.’”

The company was founded by Morris in 1972, when he was just 21 years old and gas cost 36 cents a gallon, or $2.53 today when adjusted for inflation.

“I approached my dad about stocking fishing tackle in a liquor store he had on the way to the lake,” Morris said. “We called it Bass Pro. Every nickel we could get, we put it into this fishing gear.”

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Fishing boats

Morris, a dedicated leader in conservation, credits his father, John A. Morris, founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, former President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John James Audubon for not only his approach to consumer-driven business strategies but his ability to preserve a healthy, commonsense harvest of “God-given natural resources”.

On Saturday, Morris unveiled Thunder Ridge Nature Arena, an outdoor amphitheater on 1,200 acres near Table Rock Lake, just outside of Branson, Missouri. The grand opening was packed with thousands of attendees and starred country music A-lister Morgan Wallen. The venue is planned to host Chris Stapleton and Luke Bryan, among other celebrities, later this summer.

In July, the Rolling Stones will end their summer tour at Thunder Ridge.

Thunder Ridge, dedicated to celebrating the natural beauty of the Ozarks, teamed up with Live Nation and ASM Global to execute the day-to-day operations of the space for 18,000-20,000 people. 

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“I think one thing that people can expect is getting their money’s worth here in the Ozarks,” Morris said. “And they can expect genuine, friendly service in this region.”

Morris is a vocal advocate for conservation, and designed the amphitheater oasis to highlight the rich history and unmatched views of the Ozarks.

“The economy is what it is, but I think people can expect good value here,” Morris said.

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