Outdoor retailers second Oregon store could have landed elsewhere

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Cabelas announced April 25 it would be opening its first Portland-area store in Tualatin. The retail giant had previously shown interest in Oregon City and Troutdale.Cabela’s eyed Troutdale and Oregon City, but the outdoor retailer ultimately took Tualatin’s bait.

The outdoor retailer announced Thursday that it would be coming to Tualatin next year.

Rumors that Cabela’s would establish itself in the Portland area date back to 2008.

“I think it’s a far better retail site than the others they’d been looking at,” said Fred Bruning, chief financial officer of CenterCal Properties, which is developing the Nyberg Rivers site. “Clearly there’s been a lot of success with Bridgeport Village and Nyberg Woods in that location. It’s very central, very visible from the freeway, easy access on and off the I-5.”

Read Cabela's announcement here

According to Cabela's spokesman Wes Remmer, market research has shown Tualatin offers a loyal customer base.

“We’ve had the Cabela’s catalogue since the early 1960s, so we have a really good idea of where our customers live,” he explained. “When we set out for a new location, we look at hot spots. Those tend to be areas where hunting, hiking, fishing, camping are popular. Tualatin fit the bill to that end.”

It is a profitable get for the city of Tualatin: Cabela’s Incorporated made the April 25 announcement the same day it reported a jaw-dropping 28.7 percent increase in total revenue. According to its first quarter report, Cabela’s total revenue during that period was $802.5 million. In-store sales accounted for 41 percent, or $486.7 million — welcome news to a city preparing to embrace the Nebraska-based retailer as the anchor of the 307,000-square-foot retail development known as Nyberg Rivers.

At 100,000 square feet, the store will take up nearly a third of the Nyberg Rivers development’s total retail space. It will be located on the site of the former Kmart near Interstate 5.

The fast-expanding retailer currently boasts 44 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Its only other Oregon location, in Springfield, is about half the size of the planned Tualatin location.

Widely considered a destination store, the hunting and fishing retailer will anchor a development that will doubtless stimulate the local economy and which will, according to Bruning, add as many as 1,500 additional part- and full-time jobs. But Nyberg Rivers is also proving to be a transformative project of a different kind: Initial concept plans submitted to the city in February quietly demonstrated that the shopping center would also encompass the lot at 7455 S.W. Nyberg Road - the site of themuch-maligned Jiggles strip club, whose lit sign has long been synonymous with the gateway of Tualatin.

Tommy Millner, Cabela’s chief executive officer, echoed Bruning’s optimism that the development as a whole would complement the natural landscape of the surrounding area.

“Oregon is full of people who live the Cabela’s lifestyle and enjoy outdoor recreation, which makes this a perfect match,” Millner said. “We’ve enjoyed great success at the Springfield location thanks to the support of our many loyal customers across the region, and we hope for much of the same in Tualatin.”

Mayor Lou Ogden welcomed last Thursday’s announcement.

“Cabela’s creates an exciting attraction in our city both in terms of a premier outdoor sporting retail destination and as a perfect integration with our Tualatin River natural area,” he said.

Tualatin’s site is one of 14 Cabela’s stores on deck to open across the country by late 2014. Millner stated that new Cabela’s locations routinely outperform older “legacy stores” at a rate of up to 40 percent more profit per square foot of retail space.

Remmer said that was a sign of better store design, not lagging interest in areas where Cabela’s has long been established.

“We’re learning to become more efficient with our space,” Remmer said. “One of our driving points behind the new generation stores is to preserve the unique Cabela’s retail experience while maximizing our space.”

The Tualatin Cabela’s will include everything from a fudge shop to an indoor archery range, Cabela’s officials confirmed, as well as one of its signature “gun libraries,” a well curated collection of historic and high-end firearms.

The fact that Cabela’s profits outpaced the company’s own projections is largely due to record surges in firearm sales during the past four months.

There have been record firearms sales nationwide in the wake of the Dec. 11, 2012, Clackamas Town Center shooting and the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. April’s hotly debated and ultimately unsuccessful overhaul of U.S. gun control laws likely contributed to fears about new legislation that would make firearms more difficult to attain. This year has consistently seen a distinct increase in gun sales, with gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson reporting a first quarter sales increase of nearly 39 percent, and Sturn, Ruger & Co. reporting a 53 percent bump.

Data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed a nearly 28 percent increase in background checks, which indicate gun sales, in Oregon.

Like Discount Gun Sales and Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s carries many semi-automatic weapons, which would have been outlawed by the Federal Assault Weapons Ban revived this year but defeated in the U.S. Senate on April 17.

But so far, there has been more excitement at the arrival of Cabela’s to Tualatin than there has been concern about the local gun library.

According to Tualatin Police public information officer Jennifer Massey, the law enforcement agency has received only one complaint about Cabela’s. It was from a woman concerned that there would be a gun shop on both the east and west sides of the freeway (Discount Gun Sales is located at 7014 S.W. Nyberg St.).

Cabela’s reported that when sales of firearms and ammunition were excluded, the company still outperformed competitor stores’ average profit increases of 9 percent.

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