By DILLON TABISH, for the Flathead Beacon
This past year Cabela’s began canvassing the nation for new markets where the outdoor supplier could launch its new retail store model, called Outposts. Smaller than the company’s megastores, these Outposts would supply hunting, fishing and camping gear in communities ripe with outdoor variety and activity. Right away Northwest Montana caught Cabela’s attention.
“When you look at a map of the United States this wonderful place just jumps right off the map,” Tommy Millner, Cabela’s CEO, told the Beacon.
Milner and others traveled to Kalispell six months ago to investigate. They studied the community, checked the number of recreationists, including how many hunting and fishing licenses were sold locally. They noticed the Canadian shoppers flocking south year-round. They inquired about the business climate.
In the end, “We just said ‘let’s go. This is a no brainer,’” Millner said.
This week Cabela’s announced plans to open a 42,000-square-foot outdoor retail store on West Reserve Drive next fall. The new Cabela’s Outpost store will be located on the corner of U.S. Highway 93 near Lowe’s. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2013. It will be Cabela’s second store in Montana, joining the Billings location.
“Montana has been really good to us in Billings,” Millner said. “The state is just a great place to do business. The Billings experience eliminated any concerns that we would have ever had about how great Montana is. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Cabela’s stores in Montana in the years to come.”
The outdoor retailer plans to employ about 75 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees.
Millner was in the Flathead for the Sept. 27 announcement, which he made at the Montana Firearms Institute’s Second Annual Conference in Whitefish.
Founded in 1961 and based in Sidney, Neb., Cabela’s is one of the nation’s largest outdoor and firearms retailers, with 39 stores across the U.S. and Canada.