It was snowing like crazy when we reached Depotland (the shopping district in Kalispell where the big box stores reside). Cabela’s parking lot was packed, so David parked in the Lowe’s lot across the street. From there, we walked over to the grand opening.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a “mini” mega event. Sure, I knew there would be a crowd, there always is with free stuff, but I didn’t anticipate there would be a long line of people that snaked around the parking lot. It appeared to be hundreds; mostly guys. It was a Thursday. Didn’t they have work? It wasn’t as though it was the grand opening of a Krispy Kreme! But then again, Krispy Kreme doesn’t sell guns.
After a quick peek at the new rescue helicopter we took our places at the end of the line. “We’ve got to be nuts to wait in this line,” I thought, and figured David wouldn’t want to (he’s not a fan of waiting in line). But he surprised me and said “yes” when I asked him if we were going to stay.
Rock-n-roll blared from speakers as we drifted along in line. Snowfall, loud music, and people-watching made the waiting fun.
Approaching the store entrance, we were guided through a zig-zagged-roped-in area similar to the set-ups used in post-offices when it gets crowded near Christmas or tax time. Envisioning the big-shots in the Cabela’s board room planning the opening and discussing ways to manage the crowd, I pictured something like this:
What if throngs of people rush the doors? We don’t want to have people trampled like Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
I have an idea. We’ll herd them through like cows.
People around here seem pretty zen; I can’t picture them stomping on people for a free cap…but who knows?
The rescue helicopter started its engine a few minutes before we were about to go inside the store. The engine screamed, the blades whirred, and I went closer to watch it lift off. It was a blast. A blast of wind and snow in the face, that is. Seriously though, it was the highlight of my day. In fact, I had a better time outside the store than I did inside.
The store was crowded. I was hoping for a giant cavernous building that would swallow up the crowd leaving plenty of room. It was big, but not as I had expected. Cabela’s in Kalispell is an Outpost of 42,000 square feet, not 100,000 or more, as in some larger markets.
Honestly, the crowd wasn’t a problem unless you wanted to buy something, in which case you would have to wait in a long checkout line. This didn’t, however, seem to bother the customers who had baskets filled with merchandise.
The game preservation department was my favorite as I am looking for ideas in pre-mixed sausage and jerky seasonings, since David shot Buck. I also looked at the meat grinders (I will be grinding up some venison and wanted to get a feel for newer model grinders, and prices, in case my vintage Maid of Honor doesn’t perform well).
After making our rounds about the store – boots, women’s clothing, camping, and toys – I decided I would have to return another day, after the newness of the place wears off, in order to get a real handle of what Cabela’s has to offer.
One thing I do know, they have a great selection of camo.
Click here for our video of the Grand Opening of Cabela’s in Kalispell.