If you have any interest at all in the outdoors, it's unlikely you missed news of a brand new Cabela's store located in southwest Winnipeg. An estimated 1,500 people were in line when the doors formally opened on Thursday. What can hunters expect on their first visit? Let's have a look.
-- Firearms -- It normally takes between 20 and 25 minutes to go through the gun-purchasing process, but with a bank of dedicated firearms cashiers right at the gun counter, that time should be reduced to about 15 minutes, says Rick Schweyer, Director of Retail for Cabela's. (I can vouch for the speediness of the service, having purchased a firearm at the new store.)
The new layout allows Cabela's to keep about 25 per cent more stock in a room right behind the gun counter. That means more brands, colours and calibres available at the store.
"The biggest change in is the addition of some higher-end firearms" Schweyer said. "For example, the Sako Bavarian is a hand-oiled, walnut stock beauty similar to the Sako A7, but much more refined. It sells for between $2,100 and $2,500."
-- Ammunition -- Hunters may be surprised to see that ammunition has moved from behind the counter in the old store to the sales floor in the new store. Schweyer said the reason for the change is simply to make it easier to shop for ammo.
"We worked closely with the Canadian Firearms Centre to become fully compliant and they are a great partner for us," he said. "It's laid out by calibre so shoppers can see that there are five different brands in three different loads. They may not even been aware of their choices before."
A staff person will prowl the ammo aisle (or nearby aisles) to help anyone who has questions or needs to be pointed in the right direction. Schweyer added that selecting quality ammunition can make a huge difference in results.
"If you're gonna spend money on anything, spend it on ammo. A quality product means less jamming and great accuracy."
-- Archery -- There's a testing range at the new store, which means Cabela's experts will be able to set up and tune your brand new bow before you leave the store. Schweyer said there are about 15 per cent more bows in stock, offering great choices of draw length and weights.
"Archery is certainly gaining popularity," he said. "The Hunger Games helped that. And a lot of people are taking a look at the more traditional methods of hunting."
-- Optics -- Euro, Cabela's inhouse brand of binoculars, spotting scopes and riflescopes has recently had an overhaul and the results are impressive, says Schweyer .
"You're paying a mid-level price point and getting a premium product," he said. For example, the Cabela's HD Euro binoculars sell for around $1,000 and are comparable to any other brand that sells for twice that amount.
-- Camo -- Even though we're not in the thick of hunting season, the new store has an impressive selection of camo clothing and gear featuring Cabela's inhouse brand along with Under Armour, Sitka and SHE for women. Schweyer promises much more to come in the next few months, when stock for fall starts arriving.
"I'll let you in on a secret you can share," he said. "We have a new camo pattern in the Cabela's brand coming out for this fall. It's fantastic stuff."
-- Food -- Smokers, grills, grinders, cast-iron cookware and seasoning kits are beautifully displayed at the new store. Schweyer said this area is becoming more and more popular as people become more interested in processing their game and knowing where their food comes from.
As you're strolling through the new store, you might pick up on a few intoxicating aromas. That would be the roasted nuts, flavoured with vanilla and brown sugar. Or it could be coming from the Fudge Shop, where 40 flavours of treats are made onsite. May I suggest the peanut butter chocolate flavour?
Shel Zolkewich writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she's not playing outside, traveling or eating. You can reach her with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org