Bass Pro preparing for Wednesday evening opening

Walk in, slow down.

It’s an important part of the retail philosophy at Bass Pro Shops, which will celebrate the opening of its 69th North American outlet Wednesday evening.

Walk in, take a breath and warm yourself in front of the gigantic stone fireplace.

At 142,000 square feet, you’ve got a lot of walking ahead.

“I’m ready. My whole team is ready,” general manager Ken Bruhn said Monday, as a few invited “friends and family” shoppers tested the cash registers.

“I love it. We need something like this here,” said Tacoma native and customer Julie Palermo. “I’m excited to see what the store looks like. It’s bigger and better than I thought it would be.”

Walk in, and expect to stay for a while.

Just ask Marvin Levine of Lipan, Texas. He’s been with Bass Pro for 21 years and has designed, he said, 70 of 80 stores — including several that are in various stages of construction.

“The longer you can keep a person in the store, the more money they’ll spend,” Levine said.

If an average shopper spends 17 minutes in an average store, he said, then that same shopper will spend at least two hours at Bass Pro.

It’s called “retailtainment.”

“If you add entertainment, people will come,” said Bruhn. “Entertainment is the difference.”

Hence the bowling alley with 16 lanes, the lobby that could fit into a National Parks lodge, the 13,000-gallon waterfall and fish pool.

And those fish are real, the brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, white crappie, yellow perch, bass, catfish.

“My goal is to make the store fit into the area it’s in,” Levine said.

And so the murals above the retail passage straight ahead depict Northwest outdoor scenes, forests and hills, mountains and fresh water, elk and deer.

“I had them make the murals look like they’ve been here for 150 years,” Levine said.

“It’s Disneyland for big kids,” said Ward Humphreys, who works in the hunting department.

That’s where you’ll find the pistols, rifles, ammunition, the duck decoys.

Over in the boating department you can spend $72,000 on an aluminum Thunder Jet fishing boat with a 225-horsepower Mercury at the stern.

Or perhaps another boat specifically outfitted for fishers who use bows and arrows.

Or maybe some Bass Pro fudge, or some cinnamon-glazed pecans or a tube of lip balm.

Over at the White River Fly Shop, another store within the store, you can pick up some turkey feathers, some Arctic fox tail-hair or a few “rabbit zonkers” to help facilitate the tying of flies.

There are crab pots, clam guns, oyster knives, coolers, kayaks, canoes and paddles.

Binoculars, hatchets, life-size deer targets composed of “self-healing foam.” Plus clothes of many types, shoes, hats, gloves.

Hungry? Stop in at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill, over by the underwater alleys.

Before the doors opened Monday, Laurie Bednarski led her fellow employees — there are 150 at the store and another 100 at Uncle Bucks’ — in a cheer spelling out the Bass Pro name in a strong crescendo.

“I love to fish, I love to camp,” Bednarski said. “If this is your passion, it overflows into the customer.”

“Tacoma is a market we haven’t been in,” said Patrick Daniels, Bass Pro regional manager. “The plan is to expand.”

“It’s amazing. It’s awesome,” said Jennifer Taylor of Lacey, as she buckled her twins into their carseats in the parking lot.

“We’re from the South. This opens up a whole new world,” said her husband, Richard.

“I’ve been to a lot of Bass Pro stores,” he said. “This one fits perfectly up here.”