Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Maine's outdoor retailers set to do battle

Cabela’s opening in Scarborough has been a major news story on several fronts, of late. For the town of Scarborough, this has been trumpeted by members of the economic development community. For Maine’s other homegrown outdoors retailer, Cabela’s is the first significant bricks and mortar competition they’ve faced, as the new Cabela’s is only 25 miles away (and if you are coming from the south, you pass Scarborough, before you get to Freeport).

The Nebraska-based Cabela’s sells hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise as well as clothing and footwear, gifts and home furnishings. The company markets its products through catalogs, the Internet and retail stores, like L.L. Bean.

One of my favorite blogs on rural economic development is Boomtown USA. While I continue to plug it to everyone I come in contact with, I’m not sure whether my recommendations are heeded, or not. Jack Schultz was recently in Sydney, Nebraska, the hometown of Cabela’s, and has an informative post about the company’s modest beginnings.

In comparing L.L. Bean’s sales to Cabela’s last year, Cabela's had sales of nearly $1.8 billion last year, while mailing 122 million catalogs. By comparison, L.L. Bean had sales of $1.47 billion and mails about 250 million catalogs annually.

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