Bristol residents have been taken aback by a Thursday (updated) story coming from Billings, Montana, published on KULR8.com, regarding the potential buyout of Cabela’s by Bass Pro Shops. Employees of the Billings Cabela’s have reportedly told WKULR8 that they have been told that the potential buyout would be finalized by Jan. 1 with the resulting job losses or closure happening that quickly. The employees at Billings were told not to disclose the information, but they are very concerned about their jobs. How does this affect Bristol residents?
A new Cabela’s just opened in Bristol, Virginia, in The Falls development which was highly incentivized and heavily funded with taxpayer funds. Just down the highway in Bristol, Tennessee, lies Bass Pro Shop, the anchor store for The Pinnacle, the already highly successful development funded by a local developer with only a few incentives from the city government. In the event the two similar outdoor chains become one entity, will they need two stores merely minutes apart?
According to the Bristol Herald Courier, Bristol Virginia Mayor Archie Hubbard reassured residents around a week ago that it was just “too early to worry.” He also insinuated that Bristol Virginia’s Cabela’s might be the store that remains open due to the lower sales tax rate in Virginia.
“We are absolutely concerned about what could happen if Cabela’s got bought out by Bass Pro, but it’s too early to worry,” Hubbard said. “You have to be concerned, but we like our position with the location with lower sales tax.”
Hubbard also said that the story could just be a rumor to build up Cabela’s stock prices or strengthen the company’s financial picture. (Cabela’s stock has been dropping substantially since the beginning of 2015.) Now that the rumor has been substantiated, is it time for Bristol to worry?
Regardless what Bristol, Virginia’s mayor hopes may be the case, Bass Pro Shop in Bristol, Tennessee, is a thriving location surrounded by many other growing, thriving venues. The movie theater opens this month. Cabela’s is the only business open so far in “The Falls.” Odds are that Bass Pro would not be the one to close.
Bristol, Virginia, leaders and residents probably should start worrying. The Herald Courier also reports:
“The city borrowed millions in general obligation bonds to establish The Falls site and provided funds for the Nebraska-based retailer to builds its store, the only business currently open in the Lee Highway center.”
Taxes and utility rates are going up on the Virginia side of the city, while corruption is being uncovered in mass proportions at BVU, the city’s utility. To mix metaphors, residents now fear that the city leaders have put all their eggs in one basket, and the anticipated cash cow may not produce. Perhaps, the buyout will not take place, and all will be well. However, it seems that any businesses planning on a move to The Falls would put their plans on hold until this thing is settled, and that will not be good, either.