Bass Pro Shops has officially reeled in Cabela's. Here's my opinion as a sportsman.
There's a feeling you get, as outdoorsman or woman, when you walk through the doors of your favorite outfitter or outdoor store. The joy and excitement it brings is almost indescribable. The sights and sounds, the new gear, and the outdoor "toys" somehow bring us back to our childhood giddy with excitement.
There's also something about seeing that amount of ammunition in one place. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's are certainly two of those stores that can easily bring a smile to my face. So what happens when one of those stores acquires another?
After taking a few weeks to think about it, a few thoughts come to mind.
The more competition there is for my precious, small hunting and shooting budget each year, the better. In general, more competition is always good for the consumer in a capitalist society. This is a philosophy that goes way back to our college economics courses.
As hunters, shooters, and outdoors lovers, having more stores, brands and products is a good thing. So, when Cabela's announced it was merging with Bass Pro Shops, my initial reaction was "they're selling out."
To piggyback on the financial argument from the competition section above, I'll just add that I love options. Because of that, I'd hate to lose either one of these brands.
Word on the street is that Bass Pro is not going to close down any of the Cabela's stores: we can hope that's true, but only time will tell. As mentioned earlier, they each provide a unique service, selection and vibe. I would be sorely disappointed to see Cabela's vanish. It might be similar, but it's not the same. Each store has its own feel and vibe.
Others, like Scheels, Gander Mountain, and Sportsman's Warehouse, were based on a different vibe altogether. They probably offer a similar selection of gear, and maybe there's a different brand or product line they carry. But at the end of the day, the larger my list of options, the better.
Growing up in the Midwest, the Cabela's brand carries with it a certain extra pride in my book. I've lived in Iowa and South Dakota my whole life. Both of these states share borders with Nebraska, where Cabela's was founded and is currently headquarted. While we may not agree on which college football team to cheer for, there are a lot of other things that these states share with Nebraska as well.
My big red brothers and sisters share a passion for hunting, the outdoors, nature, conservation, and maintaining a certain style of living that those of us from the area have come to love and care for tremendously. Part of that lifestyle is caring for those around us (and, if we're honest, keeping out some of that SEC riff raff as well.)
Seeing our family members and friends who've taken a lot of pride and given their lives to the Cabela's brand now in jeopardy of losing their jobs or potentially being forced to move is unsettling. We hope there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel for those folks.
Economies of Scale
It's probably not all doom and gloom. This type of merger and acquisition in the hunting industry isn't necessarily uncommon, but this one is a bit more high profile than some.
Leaning back on those business lessons from college, I'm also aware that this move might not be all bad for the average outdoor enthusiast like myself. If the group's purchasing power for goods and materials increases through the acquisition, and that translates into lower prices of the products I would already be buying, that helps my dollar go a bit farther. That's always a good thing. If this enables the group to run a more lean operation and eliminate overhead or have more efficient facilities and logistics, again reducing the prices they need to charge to remain profitable, the same effect happens.
If these two organizations have joined in an effort to scale all of the good things we already love about these places, I am very thankful. What are your thoughts on the move?