Cabela’s Competes For Share Of Outdoor Enthusiasts

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The first Cabela's in Ohio is set to open March 7. The hunting and fishing superstore is expected draw customers from around the state. Retail analysts say this could be good news for other stores located nearby.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
The first Cabela's in Ohio is set to open March 7. The hunting and fishing superstore is expected draw customers from around the state. Retail analysts say this could be good news for other stores located nearby.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

One of the country’s biggest destination shopping draws will open its first Ohio store next week. The outdoors retailer Cabela’s will open its huge store near Polaris. WOSU got a sneak peek inside the mega-store, and reports on its possible impact on Central Ohio retail.

The sounds of ducks, turkeys and elk reverberated throughout the new Cabela’s store on Gemini Parkway Tuesday morning.

Mountain lions, deer and rams look on as several Cabela’s game call specialists demonstrate equipment hunters will be able to peruse next week when the store opens to the public. Not to worry, the animals are not real. They’re part of life-like displays throughout the expansive 80,000- square foot building.

Cabela’s is the IKEA for hunters and fishermen. Outdoor enthusiasts travel for hours to buy Cabela’s huge selection of gear and clothing. And there’s a café with boar burgers and homemade fudge on the menu, which ever suits your taste buds.

Cabela’s chose the store’s location carefully, just off I-71, it’s near the Polaris mall. Company spokesman Wes Remmer said it’s accessible and visible.

“There’s already so many great things going on in this area,” Remmer said. “You know, there are nice places to stay, nice places to shop, nice places to eat. So we hope to add to the draw of what already is a great place.”

And it’s expected to attract customers from across the state.

Chris Boring, owner of Boulevard Strategies, a Columbus economic and retail analysis firm, said this could mean more business for the mall.

“Cabela’s is going to serve more of a male segment, but a lot of times you’re going to have spouses traveling together, and they may make a stop in both places,” he said.

Boring expects Cabela’s, which also sells guns, to succeed especially since demand for firearms has increased. And Boring predicts other outdoor retailers will feel a hit when Cabela’s opens.

“Cabela’s is a very special shopping experience for those who are hunting and fishing enthusiasts,” Boring said. “And I think that they’re going to come in and take a significant share of the market from everyone from Dick’s and Gander Mountain down to smaller independents.”

One of those smaller independents, Clintonville Outfitters has carved out a loyal customer base in its five years of existence. Owner Jonathan Barth said he does not anticipate Cabelas to hurt his bottom line. For starters, Barth said he carries some brands that Cabela’s does not sell.

“The other nice thing about Cabela’s is they’re not a discounter. So it’s not like, if they do carry the same thing as I do that it’s going to be 20 percent less there than it is here,” Barth said. “It’s going to be the same price. So not to mention convenience for my customers being close to where they are and close to campus.”

But Barth isn’t taking any chances. He’s plans a marketing campaign as Cabela’s opens.

“Kind of remind people that we’re here, and get our name back in people’s ears. So you’ll be seeing that. We’re doing a little bit of rebranding with our business, as well,” he said.

The overall good news: retail construction in Columbus is picking up. In addition to Cabela’s, Columbus also is set to get an American Girl doll store at Easton Town Center this summer. Analyst Chris Boring says the retail vacancy rate is 10 percent, the lowest since 2004. Just another sign the economy is recovering.

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