Cabela’s of West Chester: The story of a family enhancing conservation through capitalism

 One of my daughters and my wife had a shopping day recently that carried them into Bass Pro Shops at the Forest Park location. I haven’t been there recently because it is moving to the Streets of West Chester and I have been excited for that switch. The store will be impressive and will be a tremendous asset to the destination experience at Union Center, Ohio. The government of West Chester is running the way things should in every population dense area. George Lang and his crew of trustees are creating incentives for businesses to evolve around and lowering the barriers of entry into emerging markets—which is one of the reasons that Bass Pro is moving from Forest Park to West Chester. There are much more lucrative options at the Streets location than at Forest Park—clearly.

The interchange entering the new Bass Pro will be quite extraordinary. IKEA is already quite a draw and will share the Allen Road activity with Bass Pro which will provide shoppers with a truly epic experience. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do enjoy going to IKEA with my wife and eating the Swedish Meatballs they have there. It’s a cool setup and I like to eat in their cafeteria sitting by the windows watching all the cool new development springing up around the Union Center location. Development when it’s done correctly is like a work of art—and the Streets of West Chester, the area around Allen Road at IKEA, and on up Muhlhauser Road to the Jags restaurant is one of the most exciting areas in Cincinnati and I enjoy immensely watching the creation of all the new cool projects. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the new Bass Pro location.

However my wife and daughter took my grandson to the old one and he had a wonderful time. At two years old he was discovering all the wonderful monstrosities that are featured in that store, the giant fish tank, the shooting range, the climbing wall, the huge selection of boats and pitched tents—for little kids and big kids alike, it is a destination of boundless adventure that is simply just wonderful. When I was a kid I had to get all my outdoor equipment from the Army Store in Fairfield, all my camouflage pants, my rappelling gear, compasses, canteens—all that kind of thing. I still love that store, but Bass Pro has been hard to beat. Their camping equipment is unmatched and whenever I go there I love their roasted almonds. So when my wife returned from Bass Pro she brought home to me a package of those almonds which made for a great snack.

As I was eating those almonds and thinking about the new location I was checking on the new Cabela’s store breaking ground at the Liberty Way location. I had just been looking over the construction at the Liberty Center site—another project I am excited for, and noticed that the new Cabela’s store was moving along in the 4th quarter of 2014 as it was supposed to be. Soon there will be standing an 82,000 sq foot log cabin complete with stone work and all the usual trappings that will give Bass Pro a run for their money just down the road. I am also a fan of Cabela’s and the magnificent store they have in Louisville, Kentucky. It will be quite a treasure to have two of those types of stores in my neighborhood as most communities salivate over having just one. People consider themselves lucky to have a Cabela’s store within a hundred miles of their homes, let alone four or five miles down the road. During the Holiday season if you happen to see George Lang, you should give him a big kiss on the forehead and thank him for keeping West Chester government small enough to stay out of the way of these kinds of developments—allowing them to emerge as profit margins often entice such creativity in business. When it is wondered why this particular point on the map is doing so well, and why there is such a concentrated amount of wealth in one area look at the government—the time it takes to get permits, the rules and regulations of the local bureaucrats and the tax rate–the answer will present itself. Look at areas where fiscal wealth is not present in such abundance and you will find local governments who have mismanaged their resources forcing people to vote with their feet—but pulling out their wealth and leaving.

Many don’t know the Cabela’s story, which is one of the great American success stories. Many don’t know what makes shopping at Cabela’s such a wonderful and fun experience—they just know that it is. So let’s take a moment to get to know the Cabela family—which is featured on many of the videos on this site and are worth watching. Knowing who they are will demonstrate even more articulately why the new West Chester store is such a miracle of capitalism and why I am personally grateful to know of its development.

The company that would become the massive sporting goods reseller and chain was started in 1961. Dick Cabela purchased US$45 worth of fishing flies at a furniture expo in Chicago which were advertised for sale via an advertisement in a local newspaper.[3] When his first effort produced only one response, he placed an ad in a national magazine, Sports Afield, which was more successful. Included with each order was a catalog of other products for sale by Cabela.[3]

As the business grew, Cabela and his wife Mary moved their operation to Sidney, Nebraska in 1963. Dick’s brother Jim also joined the business. From those modest beginnings, the company has since grown to a publicly traded corporation with over US$3 Billion in annual sales.[4]

On February 17, 2014, founder Dick Cabela passed away peacefully at his home in Sidney, Nebraska at the age of 77.

Founders Dick and Mary Cabela and Dick’s brother James Cabela retained 25% ownership of the now public company which trades under the stock symbol CAB.

About half of Cabela’s sales come from hunting-related merchandise with about a third derived from the sale of firearms, ammunition and accessories in 2012. Additionally, in 2012 30% of revenue came from direct sales (through catalog and online orders), and 59% from physical retail stores. The remaining 11% of revenue came from its financial subsidiary and credit card business.[2]

Richard Neil “Dick” Cabela (October 8, 1936 – February 17, 2014) was an American entrepreneur, best known as a co-founder of Cabela’s, a leading outfitter of outdoor sporting and recreational goods.[1][2] He stated that his business was inspired by his bout with polio and a deep love of hunting and fishing.[3] He was also described as an “ardent supporter of the National Rifle Association, a vocal supporter of the Second Amendment, a hunter, and a staunch proponent of wildlife conservation.”[4]

The fruits of their many years of labor carried them to a level of success that enabled Dick Cabela and his wife to build a magnificent home in the tradition of their many stores, a real tribute to wildlife and capitalist enterprise. That home can be seen at the following link along with a descriptive article. It is quite something to see.

What started with a few fishing lures in a newspaper ad became a multi billion dollar industry and it was all started by essentially three people in a family—Dick, his wife, and brother—and they started it just because they had a passion for the products they were selling. Dick at the head of Cabela’s has been one of the most vocal supporters of the Second Amendment and the NRA so his footprint into the kind of politics I support cannot be ignored. So it will be a great pleasure to visit the new Cabela’s store in West Chester.

It took a lot of creative power and tenacity to bring Cabela’s to West Chester, it took a government with as much hands off approach that they could—minus the infrastructure improvements that had to be made off I-75 and the county of Butler for all the stuff that had to go under the ground to make the Liberty Way developments possible. For each new store that is built at Liberty Way there is a story similar to Dick Cabela—which I will think about every time I visit. It is people like him that make America great—and exceptional. That is why it’s a real celebration to enjoy roasted almonds from Bass Pro and to relish the aisles of a Cabela’s looking for new shirts, camping equipment, and rappelling gear. People like Dick Cabela and his family are uniquely American in that they help the environment by making people appreciate it in the best way possible—as active participants through capitalist endeavor. The new store at Liberty Way will have a constant customer in me—I can’t wait!

Rich Hoffman


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