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Big Buck Sports building for tomorrow by leveraging history

In business since the late 1970s, Hattiesburg-based Big Buck Sports has built a loyal customer base amongst outdoorsmen not only in South Mississippi, but also across the state. Now, the retailer is sporting a new logo, identity and Web site and is building a new, striking facility in West Hattiesburg that ranks as one of the larger expansions currently underway in the Magnolia State.

“The name ‘Big Buck Sports’ is synonymous with total commitment,” says Louis Swarts, general manager at Big Buck. “This is a new era for Big Buck, and we want to start it off in a tremendous way.”

Fresh look

At a press conference held last December, Big Buck unveiled its new logo, tagline and marketing scheme. RARE Design, also of Hattiesburg, designed the new logo. Sports design is a specialty of RARE, which designed the logo of the Houston Texans of the NFL.

“The print tells us a lot of things,” says Rodney Richardson, president and creative director at RARE. “It tells where we’ve been, but it also shows us where we’re going. It’s contemporary. It’s concise. It’s athletic. It carries Big Buck’s heritage, but it also carries its future, a future we’re all excited about.”

Also unveiled was Big Buck’s new tagline/mantra: “PlayBig.”

“This says play hard,” Richardson says. “It says don’t leave any game on the field. It says utilize the best equipment and apparel. And for the company, it declares who Big Buck is and what it does. It says that Big Buck must not only carry the right products, but also become an advocate for consumers getting involved in activities and using those products, and, of course, Big Buck Sports is the place to find them.”

Merchandise bearing the new look began appearing on the store’s shelves shortly after the announcement, and Big Buck splashed up its new Web site in January (www.bigbucksports.com).

Swarts is quick to add that while Big Buck is getting a facelift, that it is using its history to leverage future plans.

“The vision for Big Buck is only possible because of our past,” Swarts says, “a past that has always been founded on a commitment to service and a commitment to providing the best. And to succeed in today’s ultra-competitive market, we can’t allow ourselves to just show up for the game. At Big Buck Sports, we have to play big.”

New digs

Later this year, Big Buck will be “playing big” in a larger facility that is currently under construction. The new facility definitely will not look like a traditional sporting goods, and is illustrative of just how far down the road Big Buck is looking.

The new store will be situated on 14 acres on U.S. 98, west of Turtle Creek Crossing. The targeted completion date is this fall.

Just as it did when creating its new look and motto/marketing scheme, to build its new store Big Buck has pulled together a team of local talent and companies. And the team has been handed a challenging project.

The design of the building, executed by Albert & Associates of Hattiesburg, looks to further the “PlayBig” tagline and reflect the store’s commitment to promoting physical activity. The philosophy is that an energetic, physical building design will attract customers and give Big Buck a competitive advantage.

To accomplish this, Albert & Associates utilized the motions of the human body performing sports activities, giving the facility a curvy, ultra-modern look. The curves created were integrated into the plans, sections and elevations of the buildings design.

The builder is DC General Contractors, also of Hattiesburg.

When completed, Big Buck will encompass 60,000 square feet. It will also create an estimated 50 new jobs, serving as a shot in the arm for the local economy. According to the Mississippi Development Authority’s “New and Expanded Facilities Announced in Mississippi,” the Big Buck expansion ranks second among expansion projects announced in the first two months of this year in terms of estimated new jobs crated.

Going long

It has been a long, interesting — and successful — journey for Big Buck Sports. Charles and Anita Price founded the retailer as Big Buck Trading Post way back in 1978. Originally, the store offered products focused mainly on hunting and fishing equipment and supplies, but growth came quickly.

In 1986, Big Buck moved to its present location at the intersection of Hardy Street and 41st Avenue in 1986, and the store expanded into team sports, fitness and additional lines of sports clothing and footwear.

However, the store has seen its most significant changes this decade. In 2006, the store came under new ownership, and took on the new name Big Buck Sports, LLC. In 2007, ownership formed a new venture, Second Wind, a salvage division.

Today, Big Buck offers products in the areas of athletics, hunting and fishing, sportswear and outdoors as well as the Eagles Nest for University of Southern Mississippi athletics apparel and accessories.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

About Wally Northway

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