THE BEGINNING – 1931
In the late 1800’s, Oscar Thompson opened a store in Pecos, Texas. Oscar loved the business, but after a few years he was wiped out by several bad credit accounts and the depression. His son, Clyde Thompson, never forgot the joy of having the store and being able to hang out there as a kid. He had dreamed of one day having a store of his own.
The years went by, and after World War I, and eight years as a roustabout in the Smackover oil fields, Clyde finally got his wish. After looking all over the state of Arkansas, to find the most traveled highway in the state, he found it where Highway 70 and Highway 67 came together for 3 miles on Broadway, in the Rose City area of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Clyde opened his store in 1931, and it was all he ever wanted and had imagined. Thompson’s Super Market originally opened as a community grocery and hardware store, but Clyde realized he could earn a little extra money selling guns, ammo, saddles and traps out of his back storeroom (at just barely above his own cost). Around 1953, things began to change for the store. As these customers became repeat purchasers of firearms, the news of available guns and ammunition spread by word of mouth, prompting Clyde to increase his stock of firearms and ammunition. More and more customers were requesting hunting items, which meant more business for sporting goods and the potential for expansion. Eventually, Thompson’s “back door” gun retail enterprise developed into his primary source of income. Clyde applied for the legal permits necessary to become an authorized gun dealer and Thompson Outdoor Sporting Goods was born. There were 6 other types of stores that had sprung up along Broadway, but Clyde’s had become the biggest and the best! That was great to C.B. Thompson Jr., who had just gotten back from a tour in the Air Force. C.B. became very involved in the hunting business and the store after his return, eventually taking over the business from his dad.
Then in 1970 or so, along came Tom. Tom went to school and college with Roy Thompson, C.B. and Melba’s son, and he loved to hunt more than anyone you will ever meet. Tom loved to stay with the Thompsons, who thought of him as a son, and he all but moved in with C.B. and Melba. Roy, who felt he was being called into the ministry, made a Cracker Jack preacher, and thus his life took a different direction. Well, Tom wanted a sporting goods store, so in 1984, Tom asked C.B. “when he could have the store?” C.B. said, “NOW” and “The Fort” was under way. Plans were to erect a new building so that the sporting goods and grocery stores would be separated. In January of 1985, the men started building the sporting goods store, on an adjacent property, with 40,000 lbs. of lodge pole pine from Yellowstone National Park. During the build, an American flag was erected on top of the front wall. A comment was made that it “looks like a fort”, and the name stuck. Fort Thompson was born. The store was ready for business by June 1st, and had 4,000 square feet of retail space. It was great from the very start, and many more changes were to come.
On Memorial Day, in 1989, the original Thompson’s (Grocery Store) Super Market burned to the ground. Fort Thompson was left as the standing legacy of the then 58 year old business. It remained at the Broadway location until 2006, when growth made change, once again, inevitable. After 75 great years in Rose City, we moved. Why move a business that is doing great and has a great future? Well, it started way back in 1931, when Clyde Thompson wanted the location with the most traffic in Arkansas, and back then it was the Broadway junction. Things have changed since then, and now the McCain Mall area is the traffic center in the North Little Rock and Sherwood business district. So, that’s where we moved. The old Tractor Supply building and property was acquired, with approximately 19,000 square feet of store space. Tom and his Fort Thompson crew spent months gutting and refinishing the inside of the building to give it an expansive and open space, and the front of the building was dressed to give homage to the name that stuck in 1985, “The Fort”. In 2011, a new warehouse consisting of 5,000 square feet of new space was built behind the store, on a piece of vacant property. This gave us more room to stock an even larger assortment of the hunting equipment and accessories that our customers desire. Tom has turned Clyde’s original dream into a full line retail hunting store, with just about anything you can imagine available. If you’re driving through Sherwood, on Hwy 67/167, you can’t miss it. And, you can still find the same crew of hunters to help you with all of your questions, just in a bigger store with better parking!
Fort Thompson as it appears today in the new location, at 5802 Warden Road, Sherwood, Arkansas. This building was formerly the old Tractor Supply, and the guys spent many months renovating it, both inside and out, as well as upgrading the front facade to look like a fort. The majority of the work was done by Tom, and the employees of Fort Thompson. The work was completed and the store reopened in 2006, with approximately 19,000 square feet of retail space.