Someone on 24HourCampfire.com recently said he was “happier than a retard in a room full of bouncy balls.” That was rolling around in my mind when I pulled into the lot at the new Cabelas up north of Cincinnati. We’d gotten a BassPro years ago. They are promising a second one soon. Field and Stream came in south of town back a year ago. We started getting Dunham’s too. However, I figured Cabelas was going to set them all on their ears.
I do not know what I was expecting. Maybe it would be women in fur bikinis handing out bricks of .22 for $10 each, or an acre of Hunter Orange clothing, or a ball bath of assorted 1 lb rifle powders. The build-up was tremendous, and I’ve known people who have traveled 250 miles out of their way to go to a Cabelas store. I just figured the place would blow me away.
I came a way feeling like Cabelas had done a competitive job of building a store. Nothing more or less. It seems bigger than Field and Stream, but not as audacious as BassPro. It’s prices were better than a lot of places, but not as good as Walmart. The had lots of stuff, but there were a few things missing. They had a big fish tank, but it was not as big as the one at BassPro.
The Gun Libary was neat. There were some decent bargains in there. I handled a couple of Savage 99’s and a Winchester Model 70. Nobody was going to lose money on them, but they seemed in decent shape. I have seen private gun shops price a lot more for a lot less. This was by no means a museum. The fellow running it was a nice guy, and seemed knowledgeable. He was not your average counter monkey.
It was good to see someone have a real full-hearted reloading department again with some reasonable prices. I bought 1,000 rifle primers. In fact, that was all I ended up buying.
The .22 ammo was reasonably priced given the current market. There were competitive prices on rifle and handgun ammo. However, I looked for a few oddballs that I can usually find at BassPro, Dunham’s or even my local gun store, and they were not there. In shotgun ammo, they were overwrought with 7.5’s, but no #6. I would have bought a few boxes for squirrel hunting if they had.
I could have stood a pair of waterproof boots for turkey hunting if the price was right. There was nothing for my size-14 feet.
The Bargain Cave was a nice idea, but everything I might have been interested in was marked “Soiled As-is No Return” When you are thinking about possibly buying a set of waders, you some recourse if they leak. Know what I mean?
The staff were there. They were nice. They did not outnumber the customers like at Field and Stream. They knew were stuff was. They knew what it was. I had few interactions with them, but I did overhear several conversations with other customers. Overall, I was impressed.
Look, I do not need a world on a platter. I can remember $3.99 boxes of 12 GA ammo, but that does not mean I expect to see them anymore. However, something compelling needs to make me come out of my reloading cave when half a dozen dotcoms can deliver whatever I need to my door with lower prices, no shipping and no sales tax. Cabelas took the middle road, and I had hoped for better. It will be worth another visit, but not soon. In comparison, I’ve been to Dunham’s three times now, and bought something every time. I went to Field and Stream 3 times in a year and walked out empty handed and peeved that I wasted my time. I have given up on Dicks. I go to BassPro about every three months and usually find what I need.
Postscript: They one big item I needed was an 8 lb container of Hodgdon H4895. I’ll probably order it from Grafs.com here in a week or so. I would have been very impressed if it had been in the store. It was not. I heard that you can order from the Cabelas website and get free delivery to the store. I called to confirm. Everything Cabelas sells can be shipped for free to a store EXCEPT things like rifle powder. DRAT.