David Smith is the Store Manager of Bass Pro Shops in Columbia.
Tell me a little about yourself and your business.
Bass Pro is an outdoor recreational activity retail store. We represent fishing, hiking, boating, and anything you can do outdoors (except biking). We are proponents of an outdoor, active lifestyle, and educate people on conservation and how to interact with nature in healthy ways.
Why are you interested in active transportation?
It’s not something that we have a vested interest in – we’re not a bike shop – but it goes hand in hand with our goal of getting people outdoors and off the couch. The individual that is involved in active transportation is often also receptive to the activities that we represent. They’re often involved in hiking, camping and fishing. It’s hard to separate one component from the others. We also want to be an active participant in our community.
What made you decide to become a PedNet Business Member?
We have strong relationship with the groups that represent our direct activities, like boating groups and hunting groups. When people see Bass Pro, many people think we are exclusively about fishing or hunting, but our products support a lot of other activities that involve being outdoors. So being a PedNet Business Member allows us to bring brand awareness to a broader group of people who might not normally think about us for their outdoor needs. PedNet also represents a way to give back, to be a part of a broader group of like-minded people. It also goes hand in hand with my personal interest in community involvement.
What does your business do to encourage active transportation?
We try to lead by example. Brian Heydn, our Merchandise Manager, and I commute to work by bike most of the year. We’ve encouraged 10-12 other staff at the store to join our commutes, and now several different people commute from around the community. My route is 10 miles one-way, and we have one commuter from Hallsville. We have bike storage for employees, and bike racks for customers.
What are the challenges of active transportation to your customers?
I’ve been in Columbia for the last 11 years, and I’ve seen so much improvement during that time in the accessibility of safe avenues to be active. People need to feel safe for them to use active transportation. There are places where I’ve not felt safe on the roads, especially while commuting, because people are driving distracted. They’re eating or putting on makeup while driving. If you’re just trying out active transportation and have a bad experience, it will influence you. Most people will not fight through that. But if there are safe venues, if the safe places are there, people will use them. When the Hominy Creek Trail was first built, not many people were using it, and now it’s packed. It’s such a nice, peaceful, remote trail in the middle of the city, and now people are out there going for a walk, letting their kids run, and riding bikes.
Do you have any advice to encourage others to use active transportation?
It makes a big difference if you enjoy what you’re doing. I’ve battled my weight since I was a kid. For a short period of my life it was useful in athletics to be bigger, but it’s been my bane the rest of my life. I’ve never been successful pursuing weight loss as my main goal, but I’ve been successful at pursuing an active lifestyle. I’m very motivated to be the best that I can be on the bike. It’s an internal competitiveness. And the side benefit is that I’m achieving what I want from a weight perspective. It’s good have goals, but at some point you have to just get up and do it.
How do you think we could make our community more walkable, bikeable and public transit-friendly?
Support PedNet! I don’t think anyone else is looking at the city as a whole. PedNet speaks to the need for connections, and that there is a plan to connect the whole community. PedNet is the only entity that is not just looking at one niche, but is looking at the big picture.