Bass Pro Shops readies for October grand opening in Tacoma

Up go the mountain goats, the thick-horned moose, the elk, the deer.

Up stand the bears and bobcats while swordfish hang from the ceiling above the 16-lane bowling alley.

Bass Pro Shops is making ready its first store in Washington – its first in the Pacific Northwest – at 7905 Hosmer St.

Saws cut, hammers pound and the sweet scents of varnish and paint rise as workers apply the finishing revisions to what once was a Lowe’s Hardware.

And where shoppers at Lowe’s would have seen steel posts supporting the roof, now at Bass they will see what look to be the trunks of trees, now that the steel has been covered by ersatz bark.

All the work points to an opening scheduled for Oct. 22.

“We really are a tourist destination,” said general manager Ken Bruhn, offering a tour on Tuesday morning.

The entrance area, complete with a tall stone fireplace, will resemble the rustic lobby of any grand National Park lodge. The 13,000-gallon pool beneath an indoor waterfall will contain more than a hundred live fish including bass, trout, catfish and other species. From the bowling alley ceiling hang taxidermied fish from tarpon to tuna, sea turtles to sailfish and the occasional bonita and mahi mahi. Bass too.

An “Imagery Team” of artisans has been working for months creating murals and dioramas. That covered bridge and a grist mill resemble the originals near Woodland. Those wolves, turkeys and pheasants once rambled in actual forests.

“You walk in from your hectic life, and you’re relaxed,” Bruhn said. “It takes you back in time.”

He said more than 125 contractors have been involved in the construction and renovation at the store.

“We’re an economic force in Tacoma already,” he said.

When it opens, the store will employ more than 350 people, with about a hundred working in the bowling alley and at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill cafe.

In that cafe, the kids may wish to sit beneath a great white shark, and they are likely to either enjoy or run screaming when they see the bowling ball return receptacles in the shape of enormous yet somehow whimsical open jaws of alligators.

Not all is entertainment, however.

This is still a store – a 142,000-square-foot store with more than 70,000 SKUs, or individual items for sale.

The October 22 ceremonial opening will feature a theme of conservation, with honored guests including representatives from foundations and federations dedicated to species including ducks, mule deer, wild turkeys and others.

Bruhn said he has already spoken with local police agencies concerning traffic control for the all-day grand opening on Oct. 23.