Having said that Paul, is it your ascertion that there should be more hurdles for new entrepreneurs entering the field to overcome... is this for making sure they have what it takes to make a go of it in the tough times or just to ensure that they will actually feed the market and not just take away from others already established?
If the market isn't there then it just isn't there.. you can't call a few avid anglers and yakers a market.. it is great that they have a place to look and buy gear at but for the most part the rest probably buy online. I don't think it would matter if we had BassPro shops or Cabellas, LLBean or whomever put down roots... would there be a market for these companies to tap into? All of which carry more than just rods and reels... is it enough or is the overhead going to kill them the same as the other smaller companies, because the traffic isn't high enough.
New entrepreneurs don't need more hurdles; however, they do need better advice. Are you familiar with the Seed capital initiative through ACOA and, more specifically, the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Education Development (CEED) that's based in Halifax? I watched from a distance a young entrepreneur's journey through the program. At first blush, it seemed great. He was getting lots of education that seemed sound. And then I started to notice the cracks in the process. First, his business plan didn't work. So they encouraged him to keep re-jigging the numbers until it did. Nobody thought to tell him that "this dog won't hunt." Next, he was undercapitalized by about $100K. Nobody thought to tell him that he should delay his dream until he could raise equity. Instead, he raised a smaller amount of capital through debt instead of equity. What's worse, due to the undercapitalization, he made a dreadful location decision. He now has a retail storefront with no parking. The kicker for me was when about a month before he opened the business, they decided to nominate it as a "business of the year" candidate. They were effectively encouraging him to "plan the parade route" before the game was started, let alone won. It was absolutely bizarre.
Sure, it's sad when small retail stores close or are stillborn. But it is what it is. Buggy whip manufacturers didn't survive the introduction of the automobile. I don't miss them; do you?
We don't need protectionism such as the duties that bakerthree suggests. They just delay the inevitable and result in consumers paying higher prices to subsidize bad ideas. What we need is less imitation and more innovation. Cutting the same pie into more, but smaller, pieces doesn't make the pie any larger. We don't need more retail even if we can squeeze it in. You and I won't buy more fishing rods if there are more stores. We'll just spend our money in different places. It's a zero-sum exercise.
To answer your question about Bass Pro Shops, I doubt if they have any full-size operations (e.g., their Outdoor World stores that can be as large as 300,000 square feet) in metropolitan markets of less than a million people. The HRM might be able to support something more along the typical D1#'s Sporting Goods size of 45,000 square feet or so, but those stores are essentially like SportCheks with significant fishing and hunting departments added. I've never been in a Cabelas, so I can't comment on those.