Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Death of a sporting goods store

Now perhaps this just has something to do with me being something of an "old soul", but the recent merger of Cabela's with Bass Pro has me remembering what Cabela's, and a lot of other sporting goods stores, used to be.  When I first visited Cabela's in the early 1990s, it was a place where one could get things that were hard to get elsewhere--Filson coats, Woolrich and Pendleton shirts and slacks (among other vendors), high end boots, and the like.  Over the past 25 years, the "good stuff" has been steadily replaced by mass market camo and "Cabela's" brand t-shirts and sweatshirts--to the point where my family largely stopped going, despite living fairly close to one of their stores.  If I wanted cheap polyester, I could go to Sports Authority, Gander Mountain, or Dick's here in town--all of which have closed in the past two years, interestingly.

I do, however, visit the Pendleton outlet when I get the chance (and have the money), and the local menswear store that carries Filson gets my business, and the local shoe stores that carry premium brands like Birkenstock, Beautifeel, and Haflinger get my family's business as well.

It strikes me that maybe, just maybe, the crisis in "brick and mortar" stores has a lot to do with the fact that the financial guys are optimizing inventory turns and the like instead of letting the owners manage the business.  Yes, you can sell a lot more cheap camo than you can Mackinaw coats, but you might find that you can make a business when Dad buys one every 15 years, and then buys one for each of his sons as they come of age.

Much like small toy stores are eating the lunch of Toys-R-Us by selling decent toys, really.


Gino said...

i never knew about cabelas until 20yrs ago. love their stores with all the unusual stuff. never bought anything more than tshirt and hats mostly.
cabelas and bass pro stores are so identical i wonder who was copying who, though.

Bike Bubba said...

You should have seen Cabela's in the 1990s. As much as you like it now, you would have loved it even more back then. I also never got to buy some of the cool stuff, and some of it I decided not to buy after figuring out it didn't fit, but it was a great place.