Yes, it was enormous. And I understand the typical shopper spends three hours per visit -- according to the company, they anticipate 11,000 visitors per day. But clearly, the outdoor-themed megastore speaks to a different demographic. If I'm going to drive to a store the size of Miller Park that's outside Milwaukee, I'll take IKEA.
But my dad found a great winter coat. Especially if Milwaukee's winter temperatures drop to those of, say, the South Pole. The prices were reasonable and the selection was comprehensive, to say the least. You can literally choose from dozens of fleece and down vests.
That said, I'm not just being cynical when I say that not much about Cabela's blew me away. If you're into it (and I'm not), they have a snack bar full of bison, venison and other big game selections. If you need camo pajamas or anything at all that's blaze orange (and I don't), they have an ample selection. If you want to take target practice in their shooting gallery (OK, that looked pretty cool), it's there, too. They also have tons of ice fishing, boating and camping supplies. To their credit, the camping and outdoor cooking section was very impressive, including some stuff I've never seen elsewhere.
The clothing selection reminded me of a mix between Farm and Fleet and L.L. Bean. Nothing stood out as extremely stylish, though I remain intrigued with the Carhartt jacket. It did look pretty warm.
But as I left the store, I had the distinct feeling that I'd just paid a visit to Ted Nugent's house. Hey, I like beef jerky as much as the next guy, but this place was really, really focused on animals and different ways to hunt and stuff them. The clientele, which on average was about 50 years old and white, looked like they were having a great time, soaking it all in. More power to them -- but this place just wasn't up my alley.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.