“The retail experience at Cabela’s actually gives people a small taste of what they can get when they go out and see the real thing.”
– David Cabela (son of the late Richard Cabela)
This past week, the retail industry received the sad news of the passing of outdoor sporting retailer, Cabela’s founder, Mr. Richard Cabela. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read this gentleman’s story and about the company’s early history, I urge you to do so. There are several recent news articles about him, and the company’s website provides more detail about the retailer’s humble beginnings. It’s always inspiring to hear about the different ways people have followed their passion. Mr. Cabela’s and his family’s story is no exception, and his legacy has created a worldwide community of outdoor sportsmen and women that goes far beyond the traditional walls of retail.
While I have had my share of hunting and fishing experiences – and truly enjoyed them, I would by no means consider myself a “hunter” or a “fisherman.” I do have several family members who hunt regularly, and I can appreciate how recreating the experience inside a retail store with the display of taxidermic animals and birds in recreations of their natural habitat is very appealing. I blogged a few weeks ago about luxury products and shopping and proposed that one of the major reasons people seek luxury is for the experience the brand and products provides them – before, during and after the actual purchase. Cabela’s takes a similar approach by recreating the outdoor sporting experience throughout all of their channels – in-store, online, mobile, social, catalog and television.
This experience also creates a strong sense of community, which is to a large extent why the popularity of social media is growing at such a fast pace. Cabela’s isn’t just a retailer where hunting enthusiasts can purchase equipment, but it’s also a multi-channel destination for advice, entertainment, idea generation, best practices, different adventures, new acquaintances and finding common ground.
Even with everything seeming to be digital these days, Cabela’s is still largely a mail-order company. We as consumers are all so attached to our multitude of screens – both in our work lives and private lives – that we often still find some level of relief and relaxation in looking at well designed catalogs that are delivered in the mail. It’s similar to receiving a hand-written note – yes, it’s easier (and usually free or at least much less expensive) to send a quick email, but often it’s much more of an impactful and lasting experience to receive, hold and read something physical in our hands. Retailers who also provide expert advice, news and information on relevant upcoming events through these physical channels are even more highly valued.
Additionally, many of the social media channels have developed ways for users to create groups and forums as a method for people with common interests to gather and enjoy the camaraderie of others like them. Cabela’s does this in the physical sense by recreating the outdoor sporting experience in their stores, and it works very well for them. Other retailers should learn from this approach and understand that even the most diverse people can be driven together through common interests, expertise and hobbies. It is this social creation and sharing of experiences that delivers so much more value than simply presenting products on a website or store shelf.
Rest in peace, Mr. Cabela. And thank you.