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March 01. 2013 9:38PM

Bass Pro Shops says to expect Hooksett outlet by year's end; town officials surprised

HOOKSETT - Bass Pro Shops said Friday that it will open a new store near the intersection of Interstates 93 and 293 by the end of this year, but the announcement baffled town officials, who said they have received no word from the retail giant.

"I don't know anything about it," Town Planner JoAnn Duffy said Friday night. "I'm shocked, but happy and I hope it's true. We would welcome them with open arms."

In a news release posted on the company's website, Bass Pro Shops, which specializes in outdoor recreational equipment and apparel, said it would open a 149,000-square-foot store by the end of 2013.

"We are very excited to bring Bass Pro Shops to this premier site in Hooksett and to be a part of this great community," Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, said in a statement. "This highly visible location is easily accessible and will allow us to bring Bass Pro Shops' low prices and famous friendly, expert service to the many sportsmen and women in the Manchester region."

However, Duffy said, the retailer has submitted no plans for either construction of a new store or for locating to an existing building. The only vacant building that could be large enough, she said, is the former Lowe's Home Improvement store. Lowe's closed in late 2011.

"They would have to come to us," Duffy said of Bass Pro Shops. However, "I haven't seen anything.

"That's why it's odd that they would go ahead and send something out," she said.

Planning Board Chairman John Dyval Jr. said he also didn't know anything about the store's opening.

Bass Pro Shops and the town were involved in discussions several years ago about opening a store in Hooksett, but those talks died out in 2009. Town officials hadn't heard from the retailer since then.

Duffy said construction of a new building would mean at least a four-month planning review process before a groundbreaking could happen. That would put construction starting no earlier than mid-summer, she said.

"I don't think they could build something that large that fast," she said. "The only thing I can think of would be (moving into) the Lowe's store."


tbuckland@unionleader.com


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