Sarasota merchants not intimidated by Bass Pro Shops

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Bass Pro Shops has officially announced plans for its first location on the Suncoast. The new store will be built near I-75 and Fruitville Road, a prospect that is exciting local outdoor aficionados, but raising concerns among some local small businesses that sell outdoor sporting equipment.

Francis Misantone owns The Bullet Hole, in downtown Sarasota. The local shop has been in business for 67 years supplying Sarasota residents with quality hunting gear and service. It’s exactly the type of business you’d expect would be worried about the arrival of a Bass Pro Shop. On the contrary, Misantone says there's nothing wrong some healthy competition.

"Competition is always good for business and actually it will increase our business because they don't take trades, [and] they hire people that are not totally knowledgeable but know something of the subject matter,” Misantone says. “We have enough years experience that we can impart that to our customers."

Mark Goodwin, owner of Economy Tackle, agrees. The fishing and water-sports retailer has been open since 1948, and Goodwin says nothing beats the quality and expertise that comes from local shops.

"Most of our staff here, most of them are licensed captains. So they're on the water everyday,” Goodwin says. “So when people come in here we have answers to their questions."

The 80,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop will be located in the future Fruitville Commons development on the northeast side of I-75 and Fruitville Road. The location will also feature one of Bass Pro’s signature restaurants, Uncle Buck's Fishbowl & Grill, which pairs a restaurant with a bowling alley.

"Sometimes [Bass Pro is] more of a destination, you know?” Goodwin says. “It's more of an experience to go in there."

In addition to offering an experience, Bass Pro Shops also brings in jobs. The planned location will add more than 200 jobs on the Suncoast.

The announcement has been much buzzed about on our Facebook page, as well, with much of the sentiment in favor of Bass Pro. For example, Susan Rosell writes "Can't wait. So fun just to explore and dream." (Check out more comments and get in the on the conversation by visiting ABC 7 WWSB on Facebook.)

The Sarasota Bass Pro Shop is slated to open in 2016, and we will continue to report on the development right through the eventual grand opening and beyond.