Long rumored to be Alaska-bound, Nebraska-based outdoor retail giant Cabela's Inc. made it official with an announcement e-mailed to northern media early Thursday. The company plans a 100,000-square-foot store for Anchorage, the state's largest city, in 2014.
A one-time prime sponsor for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Cabela's had long been reported to be stalking a location for a 49th state store. But there was no one "ringin' those bells," as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin might say, and alerting everyone with warning shots when it finally picked a south Anchorage location across the street from a new Target store near West 104th Avenue and C Street.
Construction is expected to begin there next spring. Situated not far from the busy Ted Stevens International Airport, the new Cabela's will feature at least a few of the details that have turned Cabela's stores elsewhere into minor tourist attractions.
"The inside will feature the company's next-generation layout, designed to surround customers in an outdoor experience, including conservation-themed wildlife displays and trophy animal mounts displayed on a mountain,'' the press release from the company said. "Additionally, the store will feature a 5,575-gallon aquarium.
"The building's exterior will reflect Cabela's popular store model with log construction, stonework, wood siding and metal roofing. A large glass storefront will allow customers to view much of the store's interior as they approach the building.''
Mainly, though, the store will feature lots and lots of outdoor gear for sale in a place with a good market for such. The local branch of the REI Co-op reportedly has the highest-revenue-per-square-foot return of any of the stores run by that Seattle-based outdoor marketing powerhouse.
Cabela's, which currently operates 37 stores across the U.S. and Canada, lauded Alaskans in its announcement, quoting CEO Tommy Millner as saying: "What can I say about Alaskans? We love them; so many of them live the Cabela's lifestyle. We love the whole Last Frontier State and what it represents. Cabela's has had great customers in Alaska, essentially since the company started more than 50 years ago. We've lost count of how many times Alaskans have told us they rely on Cabela's not only for their outdoor recreation, but for their everyday living. For years, we've wanted to build a store there for our loyal customers."
And there is no doubt many Alaskans have wanted them to build a store. Now, it's apparently going to happen. Outdoor gearheads, get ready to shop 'till you drop.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com