The last couple of years have been interesting for the outdoor industry. At the beginning of 2017, you had Gander Mountain, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops as three of the biggest outdoor chains in the nation. By the time 2017 ended, you had Gander Mountain being completely overhauled, while Bass Pro Shops had completed its purchase of Cabela’s.
It was a weird world.
Now, the landscape has changed. For consumers, it’s not that major of a thing. Some people lost a store, but other than that, it’s business as usual.
For those who worked for one of these retail companies, it’s a different matter. Especially in the case of those who worked at Cabela’s home office in the little town of Sidney, Nebraska.
There, workers are trying to adjust despite the uncertainty.
The Omaha World-Herald reports the $5 billion sale of Cabela’s to rival Bass Pro has already had a significant impact on the local real estate market in the town of about 6,700 people that’s some 365 miles (585 kilometers) west of Omaha.
Before Cabela’s announced it would explore selling the firm, there were 60 homes on the market in June 2015. After the sale to Bass Pro was announced, that number jumped to 133. Last month, 135 homes were listed for sale.
In some locales, 135 homes for sale isn’t much, but the 2010 census placed the population of the town at 6,757 people. In a town that size, that’s a lot of homes. There’s just no way around that fact.
However, it still remains to be seen just what will happen with the corporate offices there. Will Bass Pro make use of those facilities for some reason? After all, they’re not making all the Cabela’s stores into Bass Pro Shops. Perhaps the plan is to leave that facility there for oversight over the Cabela’s brand?
At this point, it’s all speculation, which is kind of the problem. People in Sidney are worried and are reacting based on their own, worst-case speculation. People are freaking out because they simply don’t know anything, so they’re getting ready for whatever horrors befall them.
If Bass Pro Shops plans on keeping the facility both in operation, people need to not just know that but to know how likely are they to have a job. Frankly, a town that size depends on an employer like Cabela’s far more than they probably want to, which means even people who aren’t employed by the chain are freaking out. An official word regarding the now parent chain’s plans may well relieve some of the pressure.
Or not, depending on the news.
For Sidney’s sake, I hope Bass Pro Shops can fold the operation into their current business plans and maintain as many jobs as humanly possible. No town wants to lose a major employer, especially relatively small ones. Those hurt.
For what it’s worth, I wish those folks the best. I’ve lived in a town that has lost a major employer, and it hurts. My hometown lost a Firestone plant in the 80’s and still hasn’t recovered, so I get it. I hope Sidney is far more lucky than we were.