According to our friend Richard Simms at NewsChannel9, follow-up interviews are underway for the new East Ridge outdoor retailer, Bass Pro Outpost.
Last week Bass Pro held a job fair, inviting all comers to submit an application for one of 150 open associate positions they need to fill.
Managers say that company policy won’t allow them to release the exact number of applicants, but sources say that more than 650 people attended the first day of the 3-day job fair.
“We had a very healthy turnout,” said General Manager Jarron Ritchie.
Everyone who attended the fair got an initial interview.
“In the job fair we got to really dig into people’s outdoor experience and passion face-to-face,” said Ritchie. “You can’t do that on a piece of paper or online.”
But now they call back the highest-rated applicants for another round of more intense interviews with the nine key managers already on staff. Ritchie said he doesn’t know how long it will take before they finish that process, or begin extending job offers.
“I don’t have a drop-dead date,” said Ritchie. “We’re underway in the interview process, working all day, every day. We’re just not sure how long we might keep digging.”
Nor is there an announced opening date for the store, located just off I-75 on the Ringgold Rd. Exit.
“We’re still several weeks away from that,” said Ritchie. “All of the design and artistic work just takes time, and it’s hard to know when they’ll be done with all that.”
Ritchie has been with Bass Pro for nine-and-a-half years, and has been very mobile. He started at a store in the Kansas City market, then Nashville, then Toledo, Ohio … and now Chattanooga. He says that many moves are not typical for Bass Pro managers, but he was glad to make his way to the Chattanooga-area.
“I think that Chattanooga’s passion for creating interest in the outdoors is amazing. The resources here are something I want my kids to experience,” he said.
He and his wife have a daughter (12) and a son (9). In addition to trying to hire 150 employees, Ritchie is also trying to find a permanent home for his family.
“This year is probably toast with the work load I’ll have,” he said. “But I am really looking forward to getting my boat out on the lakes and doing some serious fishing.”
Obviously Ritchie is keenly aware of the huge number of major outdoor retailers in the Chattanooga market now, but he’s not worried.
“Competition is always healthy,” he said. “I think it allows Bass Pro to stand apart and differentiate itself. At the end of the day the view of what the BP logo stands for makes the difference.”
Those who have followed the outdoor industry for decades know that Bass Pro owner Johnny Morris was one of the first to recognize the true potential of the outdoor retail industry. Most others have followed in Morris’s footsteps.
“I’ve worked for other retailers, but you throw the BP logo on your shirt, walk around town and I never fail to have people stop and talk to me about their Bass Pro experiences,” said Ritchie. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet Johnny (Morris) several times and every time I walk away from him, I am humbled by how driven he is. And not just for the business side of things but for his commitment to conservation.”
If you missed the job fair, you can always learn more about Bass Pro employment opportunities here.
For an inside “sneak peek” at the new Outpost (from March 30) go here.