Reaction to the legal challenge from Bass Pro Shops over the use of a logo by The Simple Life Outfitters, a small mom-and-pop storefront in Valrico, was swift and harsh from the Greater Brandon small business community.
“I’m just infuriated that a big corporation would come in and bully a small business owner,” said Tammy Morningstar of Morningstar Electric, who with her husband, Ken, in 2012 received major small business awards from both the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Seffner Area Chamber of Commerce. “A little mom-and-pop shop is not competition to a big corporation like that."
Apparently, Johnny Morris, the founder and owner of Bass Pro Shops, agrees.
According to a TBO. com report, Morris visited Simple Outfitters on Saturday, Jan. 12 and promised owner Kelly Morris that the logo battle would be abandoned and legal costs reimbursed.
“He said he wasn’t aware of what was going on, but he would stop it on Monday morning,” Morris is quoted as saying. “He apologized and said that’s not the way he wants to do business.”
Word spread quickly online, as the logo battle sparked a social-media concern at both The Simple Life Outfitters Facebook page and the Standing up for The Simple Life Outfitters Facebook page. The protest page as of Sunday afternoon, Jan. 13, featured 900 likes. Noted a Jan. 12 update that drew more than 460 likes and 75 shares:
"Well the good news is in! Bass Pro's founder personally apologized for the situation and said they were no longer going to be pursuing legal action! It just goes to show how powerful a community can be when we stand together. Thanks to everyone for the support!"
The logo-challenge story broke as Bass Pro Shop representatives negotiate with Hillsborough County officials over the use of more than $8 million in taxpayer-funded incentives to secure a 140,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop in Brandon. The money reportedly would be used to build and improve roads around the proposed store’s location, at the corner of Causeway Boulevard, between Interstate 75 and Falkenburg Road.
Hillsborough County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the issue at their Feb. 6 meeting.
Bass Pro Shops sells hunting, fishing and boating equipment. Its logo features a large fish. The Simple Life Outfitters, online and at 2553 East State Road 60, sells mostly apparel, including Guy Harvey shirts, Dixie Outfitters and camouflauge clothing and leather goods.
The Bass Pro logo features a large fish. The Simple Life Oufitters logo, reportedly designed by Morris and his cousin two years ago, features three fish.
Meanwhile, business at The Simple Life Outfitters has picked up as news of the logo legal battle spread among community members and small-business owners, including at FANG and Brandon chamber networking events.
“We’re getting ready to go down there and support them,” Tammy Morningstar said Friday, Jan. 11, about her plans to shop at the Valrico store. “They don’t have the type of funds to fight a big company like [Bass Pro Shops]. They can bleed you dry in just attorney fees. I couldn’t imagine having to go through something like that.”
Apparently now, after Morris’ visit to Valrico, that won’t be a concern any longer.