Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cabelas Review – The good, the bad and the just plain ugly

Cabelas Review – The good, the bad and the just plain ugly by Rabid & Duckman

I finally managed to get down to the new Cabela's store in Scarborough this past weekend and was seriously impressed. Though I outline a few “concerns” the overall experience was very enjoyable and it is certain that I will return again. Initially, I thought the store lacked a distinctly “Maine feel” but I understand it typically takes a new store 6 months or so to develop its own “character” . . . so how about making a taxidermy section that is all “Maine” animals or putting up a good sea ducking video on one of the dozen or so TV screens!?!?!

The attention to detail in their taxidermy selections, interactive stations (Play Station console, shooting gallery and video games) is impressive and makes the new L.L. Bean hunting and fishing expansion appear like a half assed effort. For comparison, let me use the fresh water aquariums as a prime example of the apparent differences in design aspects. L.L. Bean set-up their fishing display tank in a way that is impossible for my two year old son to view unless I pick him up. He is unable to roam freely on his own accord and watch fish of his choosing. In an attempt to present kids with a more “interactive” tank experience they created a poorly designed bubble within the tank that gives kids a 3rd view. The issue of course, is that only 1 or 2 kids at a time can access the space and if you want to go with your young children into the space you need to get down on your hands and knees and crawl across the dirty floor. Additionally, the space is an OSHA case waiting to happen with the limited head clearance. DUH, who though this was a good idea!??! Cabela's tank goes from the floor to ceiling giving both kids and adults the ability to easily watch the fish . . . it is a functional, simple and elegant design.

Having more available floor space I understand is critical but how about eliminating some of the “fluff” and making the 2nd hand firearms all available on one level like at the Kittery Trading Post and L.L. Bean. My first impression, “wow, their selection of 2nd guns is REALLY limited”. The current racking system makes what is a healthy selection “look” severely limited. Examining the guns, I found it impossible to look over the 2nd tier firearms without removing them from the rack. This proved to be a time consuming process and I finally gave up and only concentrated on the firearms in the bottom rack. By removing the top rack the additional lighting would make the bottom tier inspection process even easier.

Overall, the store is overwhelming and in the 2 hours I had available, I barely managed a cursory glance. The selection of high end hunting and fishing equipment had this gear junkies drooling and it took all of my will power to keep my credit card in my pocket. So, why did I keep from spending? Here is the story . . .

I had gone to Cabelas to pick out a new shotgun to “supplement” my current Franchi 612 semiauto. With my government economic stimulus check and a fist full of employee discount coupons, I was planned to buy the Benelli Super Black Eagle 12. Now, folks for you unfamiliar with this firearm this is $1,600.00 investment and when I spend this amount of money I expect EXCELLENT customer service. The elderly representative who assisted me was very unfamiliar with this shotgun and had significant trouble with the assembly and disassembly process. He even refused to completely take apart the shotgun saying that “it was greasy and he didn't want to make a mess”. Despite his limited experience, he still managed to talk down to my friend and I like we had NO experience with shotguns. Seeing that the display area held 3 SBEs in black, I inquired if they had the camouflaged version. The service representative checked the computer and said they had one in stock outback and he could go out and get it if I was REALLY interested. I replied that it was “ok” I would walk round the store and think about it. Think about it I did and decided to check around for other stores with better knowledge and customer service. Since I mentioned it, lets talk about pricing . . . second hand guns at Cabelas are over priced. I recently purchased a Browning BAR 30-06 manufactured in 1985 (mint condition) at L.L. Bean for $485.00 . . . the best I could determine Cabela's price was $625.00.

Being a “rabid” duck hunter, I had expected to see a gigantic waterfowl selection but only happened to find a few scattered decoys in the “Bargain Basement” section. I had expected to see every breed of duck and goose decoy ever made by a dozen different manufacturers, a wall of duck and goose calls, etc. Perhaps we missed the section when we were busy picking out neon deer head signs, mail boxes in the shape of giant bass plugs or large pink “unidentified” ornaments.

Lastly, I did end up spending and purchased a cast iron griddle, long hot dog fork for the little man (for when we go camping), collapsible saw and baseball cap clip on flashlight. My buddy also bought several items and I handed out the remaining “Employee Pricing” coupons to a family of four pushing a HUGE cart full of camping gear and a young kid and his Dad who were buying his first firearm and struggling with the price.

Final score Rabid gave the store a solid B+ while DuckMan’s graded a B-. See you next for the 6 month review!


  1. A few years back a bass pro shops opened up a few minutes from my house and I had the same experience.They never have the guns in stock they don't know much about them and all they want you to do is buy something not think about it.It's ridiculous how the fishing lures are half as expensive in the walmart next door to bps.I haven't been to a cabela's yet but i'm sure it's all the same.

  2. Store was amazing . . . they just need to work on educating their employees to a set of high standards. Getting and keeping good people is always a challenge.

    Yeah, Walmart prices are hard to beat . . . makes me feel bad for the lil guys BUT in the end $$ is $$ and its better in my pocket.

  3. I had to give it a B- for several reasons... When a company like Cabelas comes in you expect that with it's financial accord; they can make an excellent Maine store that would be a major draw for any enthusiast in state or out of state... I could care less about an African Safari exhibit but a coastal scene with eiders and coots on rock ledges would be awesome. Poor research and a cookie cutter store... Another minus for me was it felt to generic, even KTP has a feel to it and has almost every need for the Maine sportsman in mind... Finally, when I get my sales tax added on my next internet order, I'm going to be ugly... The firm hand of taxation will find itself once again dipping its sticky fingers into the duckman's pocket...

    The good was that there existed a drove of excellent items, I could have easily bought ten items that I do in fact need... I did enjoy the fish tank and thought the clothing section was satisfactory... Oh one more bad, what is up with the Duck Section!!???!!!

    Overall, a great day with my buddy the Duckhammer, aka Rabid, aka Fuddle...

    Thanks Buddy,
    Downeast DH aka Duckman out

  4. Oh well don't even get me started on the duck section at bass pro.it's a joke even when it's hunting season.I'm talking one damn row of duck stuff.that's it.you got half a store of deer hunting stuff, a third of a store for turkey and about ten percent actual fishing merchandise.it's all a money game and they win every time because I still go there.

  5. Our BPS in Maryland isn't bad, but for hunting it can't TOUCH the Cabelas in PA.

    You will enjoy shooting the SBE. Your experience with the customer service rep seems pretty typical. I usually get one of two types of service:

    1) the type you got - beyond useless.

    2) the "gun guy" who has only ever hunted deer, and only with shotguns, and wants to argue with me about every_single_little_thing. "What's that gun called? Nope. There's no such thing."

    Me: It's in the Beretta catalog.

    BPS gun guru: "It's a mistake. I've never heard of it. I can't order if it is a figment of your imagination."

    Me: The guy at my local gun shop would order it if it were called the "Beretta Alien Bunny Rabbit Whacker. So......see ya.

  6. Never go back. I was treated like a child when I went into Cabela's to get some Gun accessories. I brought my rifle in and was mauled by security that took my UNLOADED gun, took it out of the case, put a lock on it, confiscated my magazines and then they carried it around the store for me like I was a child. Cabela's is now only an attraction for children looking for rubber band guns and hotdogs. This was the worst managed sporting goods store that I have ever been too. Embarrassed, I finally just said to give me my gun back and I went to Shooters World where I was treated like an adult and with respect. I spent my money there and would recommend anybody but the circus of lookie-lou's Cabela's.


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