And following, not entirely appropriately, on this being National Small Business Saturday, there's news floating about that Bass Pro Shops may buy out its competitor Cabela'ss.
I really hope not.
Cabela's is an excellent store, and it's really a model of local enterprise. Based in the small town of Sidney Nebraska, it built a small local store into a giant via its catalog. It isn't that its' cheaper than its competitors. It often is not. But it has a fanstastic assortment of items, and better yet, for somebody from this region, it's a regional store and has things that apply to this region.
I first went to the Sidney store so long ago that it was actually still in downtown Sidney, and not all that big. That store, in my view, had more charm than than the giant store by the Interstate Highway. And I wasn't all that happy, even way back when, when the store began to build additional physical stores in other localities, although I've been to three of them (Billings, Denver and Rapid City). I usually stop in the Denver store when I drive by it.
I've never been in a Bass Pro Shop but I have received their cataglogs from time to time, which has never inspired me to buy anything from one. They strike me as defined by their name, in some ways, that being "Bass". There aren't any bass here and a store that defines bass as a significant game species is unlikely to interest me much. If it had "trout", or even "salmon", in the name, it'd interest me a bit more.
But the big reason I hope that this doesn't go through is that this sort of conglomeration in these specialized industries, and in retail in general, just doesn't seem to have a good result. At some point it's already the case that the big outfits crowd out the smaller ones. From time to time, for example, its been rumored that a Cabelas would come in here, and people will sometimes pose it in "I wish a Cabela's would come in here". I don't. I like the Wyoming regional store, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports and I trust the people who work there. I don't want to have to force them to compete with a Cabela's.
Indeed, I wasn't super happy when Sportsman's Warehouse came in, but so far it hasn't been much of a threat, in so far as I can see, to the regional Rocky Mountain, even though its a multi state (and indeed multi national, as it's also in Canada) chain. Quite a few people will go to Rocky Mountain over Sportsman's if they feel Rocky Mountain has an item. And for that same reason I also worried when Dick's Sporting Goods came in, but again I've found Dick's to be pretty disappointing in the outdoor items department, save for kayaks, so my worry was perhaps misplaced. Cabela's, on the other hand, might crush them all, assuming that Bass doesn't gobble Cabela's and then crush everyone.
Just recently a fellow opened a new, locally owned, sporting goods store catering to outdoorsmen, that being a store called Wagner's. I hope it does well. I've only been in it once, but it did have an assortment of interesting things and it went into the location of a small sporting goods store that had managed to hold on for decades. I like the fact that an enterprising man can still open one and I hope the best for it. By opening it, we sort of retain the historical norm here in that there's always been a local store catering to outdoorsmen (Dean's Sporting Goods, Timberline) and a somewhat larger semi chain store (Coast to Coast, Rocky Mountain). They respond to us locals, stocking stuff that we use, and avoiding things we don't (bass lures, tree stands). Cabela's had become a giant example of the regional store, and while it has been threatening to become much more than that, it's a great store. I hope that Bass Pro Shops doesn't take over it.