Gaping at the trout stream winding into the fishing department, the African diorama with a full-body mount of a bull elephant, the 42-foot man-made mountain with the waterfall and dozens of mounted game animals on its flanks, many people are going to have the same thought: The 225,000-square-foot Cabela’s retail store is absolutely jaw-dropping, an outdoors fanatic’s heaven come to earth. But in an era when most retailers sweat the pennies generated by every foot of floor space, how do these people expect to make any money?
“If you build it, they will come,” said Greg Golab, the general manager who has overseen every step of this 18-month project from buying the 200-plus-acre lot at the corner of U.S.-23 and M-50 to installing the 20-foot-high, still-secret bronze sculpture out front.
“You have to remember that we aren’t like Home Depot or Tuffy, where you have to go because your plumbing won’t work or your muffler fell off,” said Golab, who began his outdoor retailing career 20 years ago at Lakeside Tackle. “We sell things you really don’t have to have, so we need to give you a reason to come here.”
Kevin Collins, the store’s products manager, said: “What we have here is a museum with a really large gift shop. We try to create a mood, an atmosphere that outdoor people will like, and fill every need they have whether it’s camping, hunting, hiking or whatever. All fishermen and hunters have stories to tell. Our products involve the retailing of memories not yet made.”
The Dundee facility is the biggest of Cabela’s seven retail stores and will carry 95 percent of the products in the catalog. Golab said the retail operation will peak at 12-15 stores “because we draw people from hundreds of miles away. We don’t want to compete with out own stores or catalog.”
Cabela’s biggest rival, Bass Pro Shops, says it achieved the 4 million visitors it predicted after it opened a 150,000 square-foot store at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills last year.
Cabela’s, which bills itself as the World’s Biggest Outfitter, opens what is billed as the world’s biggest retail store at 8 a.m. Wednesday, August 30, 2000. Facts and figures about the facility at U.S. 23 and M-50 in Dundee:
* The store covers five acres and sits on more than 200 acres of land that eventually will include hotels, restaurants and an RV park.
* People who buy a boat at Cabela’s can learn how to use its electronics and trolling motor on a six-acre, 24-foot-deep lake by the store.
* More than 1,000 animal mounts are on display, including the polar bear Fred Bear killed with a bow and arrow, and an African scene with full-body mounts of a bull elephant, white rhino, leopard, Cape buffalo and a pack of lions making a kill.
* The in-store deli offers elk, ostrich, venison and caribou sandwiches.
* Dozens of full-body mounts of grizzly, brown, polar and black bear; deer; mountain sheep and goats; bison; a herd of antelope; wolves, and numerous smaller game species various species adorn a man-made mountain 42 feet tall, 92 feet wide and 88 feet long, complete with waterfall.
* Three aquariums — one 45,000 gallons and the other two 10,000 each — hold nearly every Michigan game fish in realistic settings.
* The store’s staff includes three fishery biologists who work full-time maintaining them.
Source : Eric Sharp, “CABELA’S BUILDS A RETAIL MONUMENT TO THE OUTDOORS IN DUNDEE, WITH MOUNTAINS TO BUY AND SEE UNDER ONE ROOF. CALL IT . . . THE GREAT INDOORS”, Detroit Free Press, August 29, 2000.