CABELAS- NEBRASKA'S RETAIL ROLLER COASTER
I remember the first time I rolled up to a Cabelas' store- it was in Owatonna, MN. in the early 90’s, The massive statue of two great bucks certainly left an impression on me, just as have the bronze grizzlies in Dundee, MI and the voyageur canoers in Hamburg PA. For me, a long time recipient of their catalog, Cabelas was synonymous with the great outdoors. A trip to Cabelas was not a trip to the store, it was an adventure in and of itself. Each store had everything you needed for hunting, fishing, boating, camping, shooting, and all other outdoor recreation activities.
The Nebraska company was founded by Richard N. (Dick) Cabela in 1961 and grew to be publicly traded stock company in 2004. Cabelas retail outlets have a distinctive look that make these stores tourist attractions. The stores feature museum-quality taxidermy displays of animals from around the globe, large aquariums, indoor mountains, and archery ranges. Currently, the largest Cabelas facility is in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, with more than 250,000 square feet of floor space. The company has announced plans to nearly double its number of current retail locations within the next four years. a big part of that expansion is the opening of Cabelas Outposts, a new retail initiative aimed at introducing a unique retail experience to customers in under-served markets across the United States and Canada.
Dick Cabela started his business with $45 worth of fishing flies purchased from a furniture expo
in Chicago. He advertised those flies in a local newspaper, and was not deterred when this effort produced only one response. He placied another ad, this time in a national magazine- Sports Afield. Those who responded to that add received a catalog full of other outdoor products. From those beginnings, the Cabela family built a direct marketing operation that became one of the largest in the United States, with 120 million mail-order catalogs shipped to 50 states and 120 countries. Cabelas added "Trophy Properties LLC" (a real estate market), the "Gun Library" (for buying and selling new, used, and collectible firearms), and World's Foremost Bank (the former issuer of Cabelas' Club credit cards).
As the business grew, Cabela and his wife Mary moved their operation to Sidney, Nebraska, where Dick's brother Jim joined the business. This was the base for what was to become a publicly traded corporation with over $3 billion in annual sales. Founders Dick and Mary as well as brother James retained 25% ownership of the public company.
About half of Cabelas sales come from hunting-related merchandise of which a third is derived from the sale of firearms, ammunition and accessories. Additionally, 30% of revenue comes from catalog and online orders, and 59%, including the firearms, comes from the retail stores. The remaining 11% of revenue came from its credit card business. Unfortunately,
in 2014, with the death of Dick Cabela, things began to change. In March of that year, Cabela's sold their recreational real estate division to Sports Afield. In December 2015, Cabela's sold their Outdoor Adventures division to Worldwide Trophy Adventures. The final step of dismantling the old Cabelas was the October 2016 sale of the retail operations to Bass Pro Shops. The sale was approved by the Federal Trade Commission July 5, 2017, finally closing September 25, 2017 after resolution of issues related to the credit card operations.