After several months of construction, Union Gap’s about one week away from getting it’s own Cabela’s store.
Earlier this afternoon, I got a sneak peek inside the store, the first under its small-format Outpost concept, as part of a media event organized by the Sidney, Neb.-based retailer.
I’ll write more about the store for tomorrow’s paper, but here are a couple initial impressions I’ll list now:
• When I first entered, I was greeted by a number of people dressed in khaki shirts and pants, the typical uniform for the store’s 116 employees. Randy Longnecker, general manager of the Union Gap store, noted that the company received more than 800 applications and conducted 700 interviews before they ultimately hired one of these 116 employees.
One person who will be working there is Gary Fairbanks, who recently closed Fairbanks Outfitters, his fishing shop in downtown Yakima. Given the loyalty people had for Fairbanks and his store, it’s good that Cabela’s will be able to draw from his expertise both in fishing (especially fly fishing) and his relationships with local fishermen.
• That’s not to say Cabela’s lacks expertise. In fact, it’s as I walked around the store with Longnecker and Melissa Schultz, Cabela’s senior director of visual field merchandising, it was interesting to hear how much Cabela’s studied this area over the years. Schultz, for example, noted to me that they chose to expand their fishing department to accommodate more fly fishing items as the sport was very popular here. The store is also trying to show this regional cred by stocking local product from companies such as Yakima Bait and Pautzke Bait Co.
• Yes, the 40,000-square-foot store is not as big as the ones in Lacey and Tualip, but the Outpost store concept definitely offers a lot of the same feel with large scale nature panoramas and more than 60 taxidermied animals decorating the store.
• Longnecker made a point during our interview mentioning the enthusiasm of local customers for the new store. He says he can’t go anywhere without getting a bunch of people asking him about the store. He’s no stranger to such excitement -- he’s worked at other store openings, but the anticipation in Union Gap takes it one step further: “It is over the top,” he said. “Everyone is really excited.”
The store is scheduled to open at 11 a.m. on Oct. 4. What are you thoughts on the new store? Will you go to the opening? Let me know in the comments.