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HARLINGEN — There were fewer people than the night before but as much excitement when Bass Pro Shops opened Thursday morning.
Wednesday night’s Evening of Conservation for Bass Pro Shops drew almost 10,000 shoppers to the Rio Grande Valley’s newest retailer.
Bass Pro Shops spokeswoman Katie Mitchell put Wednesday evening’s number at more than 9,500 people, citing the number counted at the turnstiles. But there were others who entered through side gates and other entrances, so the final number was higher.
The first two people in line for Bass Pro Thursday morning arrived at midnight.
Maribel Hernandez and Joseph A. DeLeon were chilled, but excited to be the first to walk through the doors on Bass Pro’s first full day in business. DeLeon was dressed in full camouflage clothing, and was looking forward to the hunting products sold at the store.
“Contrary to popular thought, I think Bass Pro is going to be a great economic boost,” La Feria resident John Drawe said as he waited in line for the doors to open Thursday morning. “I think people will come from all around to see the store, even Mexico. It will be a great anchor for other stores,” Drawe said.
Russ Wester and his wife Nancy were among the first customers who arrived at Bass Pro at 5:22 a.m. The couple splits their year between Victoria Palms in Donna and Minnesota.
The couple enjoys fishing and said Bass Pro Shops is great for the Rio Grande Valley because it provides jobs and will help the area grow.
Bobby Chapa was also near the front of the line Thursday morning. Chapa, a Raymondville resident, attended Wednesday night’s festivities and returned for its opening Thursday.
Chapa said he hopes the business attracts other stores and restaurants. He said he decided to come to Bass Pro on Thursday instead of going hunting.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Harlingen,” Economic Development Corporation Board President Ernesto Silva said at an opening ceremony put on by the city Thursday before the store opened. “The community pulled together to make this happen,” EDC CEO Bill Martin said at the ceremony.
The store is offering special deals to the first 200 customers today and Saturday.