COLUMN: A target market to take advantage of

As I wrote a month ago, I was excited that Cabela’s was in the process of signing a lease agreement to build a huge store in Abbotsford

COLUMN: A target market to take advantage of

On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton

As I wrote a month ago, I was excited that Cabela’s was in the process of signing a lease agreement to build a huge store in Abbotsford.

My first visit to this cornucopia of all things relating to the outdoors was shortly after their first Washington State store opened in Lacey, just north of Olympia. About two years ago a second location began operating in Tulalip, about 30 minutes north of Seattle.

Until then, the only way most West Coast Canadians could access all the goodies offered by the Nebraska-based store was via online shopping.

Then, while driving up-Island in May last year, I was shocked to see in Nanaimo a Cabela’s under construction. Why, I wondered, wasn’t there a location on the Lower Mainland to tap into the two-million-plus market available here?

Abbotsford has answered that, with Cabela’s preferred freeway visibility, soon to be its B.C. home.

Why the enthusiasm over an outdoor store? Because it could be best described as a very large ‘destination’ operation attracting woodsy, watery enthusiasts from throughout the province and, with our low dollar, northern Washington, too. This also means all sorts of local businesses – restaurants, hotels, truck/boat/ATV dealers, as well as other outdoor supply outlets – will benefit by increased traffic from a ‘target’ market.

From what I have seen, the selection is enormous, prices are good and, in my opinion, key to any business success, the staff knowledgeable. What Cabela’s does need to keep in mind is the B.C. market.

Unlike most of the U.S., we are not bass fishermen, the tackle for which seems to be the stock-in-trade south of the border. In fact to my limited knowledge, there are but a few of them in the province, St. Mary’s on Salt Spring Island being among the best.

British Columbians, for the most part, are salmon and trout fishermen, with our myriad lakes offering world-class rainbow fishing from spring ice-off to winter chill when ice-fishing kicks in. New Zealand is about the only other place with similar opportunity. This means they’ll need to be a little more selective in their B.C. product offerings.

As for store ambiance, and some may cringe at the thought, every Cabela’s I’m aware of has a remarkable diorama of stuffed animals. Interestingly, perhaps other than Alaska, B.C. is the only location where they have stores in which all those animals are indigenous.

However, I’m sure in the lead-up to the store opening, you and interested folk throughout the Lower Mainland will read and hear all about it because it will be a well-promoted attraction, bringing people here to spend money – not just to Cabela’s but throughout the community.

In the meantime, as spring weather rapidly melts the ice on high-mountain lakes, anticipation for getting out in B.C.’s incredible backcountry is running high.

Then following a foray or two into our current and well-stocked outdoor stores for some new and always “necessary” gear, it will be on with the boat and off with the grandkids to reel in some of our world-class trout.

There is no other place in the world that offers the environmental diversity and opportunity for outdoor adventure than British Columbia. It’s yours, so take advantage of it!

markrushton@abbynews.com