The Outdoor Store War


As you may recall, we’ve reported previously on several grocery store chains that were, and still are, battling for Charlotte, NC consumers. And although that war isn’t over, a new one has been declared. The rhyming title? The Outdoor Store War. At least three hunting, fishing, & camping chains are competing for the dollars of consumers in the Carolinas. It’s not just Charlotte: it’s Charleston, Greenville, the Triangle, & other cities as well. So keep reading to learn more about the outdoor stores that will serve your area. . .

Cabela’s, Nebraska’s most recognized brand, began in 1961 in Sidney, Nebraska, but the hunting/fishing/camping retailer didn’t go public until 2004. Since then, the outdoors chain has spread across the continent, with over 50 stores in the US & Canada. Bass Pro Shops is Cabela’s direct competitor, as each company’s stores feature attraction-like displays. Such Cabela’s stores include an aquarium, a shooting gallery, a Gun Library, a restaurant, & a travel service.

Cabela’s announced plans to double the amount of retail locations within the next four years. These plans include two new stores in the Carolinas. The new locations, in Garner, NC & Fort Mill, SC, are slated to open this year. The opening of these new stores follow the launch of a Greenville, SC store in 2014. The new location in Fort Mill is on the former site of Plaza Fiesta, a mall that was demolished to make way for the new store.

The Cabela’s in Garner, NC, will anchor the expanding White Oak Crossing Shopping Center, which already has several other tenants signed on, such as Carolina Ale House. The Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) is a key area in the so-called “Outdoor Store War.” Bass Pro Shops, an aforementioned competitor, opened their first store in the Triangle in early 2014. Gander Mountain opened their first store in the Triangle in October 2012.

Finally, Dick’s Sporting Goods, a distant competitor, chose a newly developed shopping center in Cary as one of the first locations to test their new Field & Stream concept store. Field & Stream is Dick’s way of competing with hunting/fishing/camping stores like Cabela’s. The first Field & Stream store opened in Pennsylvania in late 2013, and hosted guests such as Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty & retired WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels. In other news, Dick’s received a fair amount of publicity in the 2014 film When the Game Stands Tall, since they were a sponsor of the De La Salle Spartans, a California high school football team.

Gander Mountain, a company that began near the real Gander Mountain (across the border in Illinois) in Wilmot, Wisconsin in 1960, is now headquartered in St. Paul, MN & operates over 130 hunting/fishing/camping stores in the United States.

In July of 2014, Gander Mountain opened their first store in the city of Charlotte. Three other stores were already in operation in the Charlotte area: Monroe, Mooresville, & Gastonia. The unveiling of the new Charlotte store coincided with the opening of the new Charlotte Premium Outlets. Gander Mountain also operates six other stores in the Carolinas, five of which are in NC. The company’s first South Carolina location opened late last year in North Charleston. Gander Mountain also opened a new store in Augusta, GA, just across the SC border, in fall 2014. Including their new store in metro Atlanta, Gander Mountain has a total of five Georgia stores in operation. Virginia has five stores as well.

Bass Pro Shops was founded in Branson, Missouri in 1971 & is now headquartered in nearby Springfield, MO. Today, the company operates over 70 hunting/fishing/camping stores across the nation. Bass Pro Shops stores typically feature aquariums, taxidermy mounts, & waterfalls, similar to the attractions found at Cabela’s. The flagship store in Springfield houses the National Rifle Association’s National Sporting Arms Museum, while three other locations in Illinois, Pennsylvania, & Texas feature 12-lane bowling alleys & billiards rooms.

The Carolinas are currently home to three Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores: Concord, NC, Myrtle Beach, SC, and the third recently opened in Cary, NC. The chain also plans to open two new stores in North Charleston & Spartanburg, SC this year. Bass Pro also operates a Sportsman’s Warehouse, opened in early 2014, in Cary, NC, the same city that Dick’s Sporting Goods chose to house one of their first Field & Stream concept stores. The Sportsman’s Warehouse location in Cary should not be confused with the Utah based Sportsman’s Warehouse chain, which operates stores in Roanoke, VA & Columbia, SC, in addition to three other locations in the South & the dozens of stores they operate in the West.

Other competitors include Sportsman’s Warehouse, Academy Sports, & Scheel’s.

Sportsman’s Warehouse has a single store each in three of North Carolina’s neighbors, excluding Georgia. This hunting/fishing/camping chain should not be confused with Bass Pro Shops Sportsman’s Warehouse concept or the Australian outdoors chain. As of January 2015, Sportsman’s Warehouse has no plans to expand into the Tarheel State.

Academy Sports & Outdoors is a Texas-based sporting goods chain of over 175 stores that also sells hunting/fishing/camping equipment. Academy opened their first Charlotte-area store in March of 2012 in Rock Hill, SC. Their first North Carolina store opened in Hickory in September 2012, and two more stores in Concord & Kannapolis opened in March of 2013. There are no more planned stores in North Carolina.

Scheel’s recently opened an enormous store in Billings, Montana, but the popular hunting/fishing/camping chain doesn’t have any plans to expand eastward. Scheel’s is is famous for their store in Sparks, Nevada, which is currently the largest all-sports store in the world.

(Sources: Cabela’s, Wikipedia, Raleigh Biz Journal, Scheel’s, Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain)


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