GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - A Cabela's store officially opened Thursday morning in Grandville, bringing about 250 jobs and an anticipated economic boost to the area.
---- Photos: Cabela's grand opening ----
Customers camped out Wednesday evening in front of the new specialty retailer near the intersection of 44th Street and Ivanrest Avenue. Matt Kruchowski was first in line at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Cabela's expected upwards of 5,000 shoppers to come through the doors before closing time Thursday.
The new Cabela's measures in at about 88,000 square feet. It's a mini-mart compared to the 200,000-square-foot store in Dundee. Smaller stores are a new strategy for the company.
"We're looking around the country and realizing hey, there are a lot of customers and a lot of markets we've never been," explained Wes Remmer of Cabela's. "This store's got those unique Cabela's features but it's very shopper friendly and allows us to get into a unique market like Grandville, which is close to Grand Rapids."
The retailer's method for determining which markets have a high concentration of people who like to get outside and do things uses an old school sales tool: Their catalogs.
"We've been in the catalog business for over 50 years so we have a good idea of where our customers live -- what they buy, what they like to do," Remmer said.
And Grandville was a solid target. The biggest concentration of customers is expected from the Grand Rapids metro area.
"And then really the entire west portion of the state. We know people are convinced this is place to shop," said Remmer.
Cabela's has a reputation for being as much an attraction as a business. After all, where else can you check out a stuffed ram and pick up a jig head for the end of your fishing pole?
Reverend Bob Oliveira and his family made the trek from Fremont.
"Fantastic," he said of one display. "Really well done."
But for Oliveira, a trip to Cabela's isn't just about the displays. The avid outdoorsman said he has spends a lot of money buying through the outfitter's catalogs every year.
"Several thousand, easily," he said. "If you're going to buy ammunition or of your going to buy fishing lures or line or whatever, it can accumulate quite quickly."
It's money he will now spend in Grandville and the greater Grand Rapids area.
"From here we're going to the outdoor sports show right at DeVos Place," Oliveira said.
But just how often he and the family will return to the Grandville Cabela's depends on Mrs. Oliveira.
"I have restrictions, but often," she said with a laugh.
But other local hunting retailers say the Cabela's buzz will die down, and that there is plenty of business for everyone.
"Our customers are loyal. We go beyond the call of duty, basically," explained Tom Szczepanski of Al and Bob's Sports.
He said his store has customers who come in three times a week -- sometimes just to talk. He is not scared of Cabela's taking away business.
"In fact, a gentleman right now that's picking up a gun was at Cabela's, came here and got his gun. So it does bring a lot of customers into the area," he said.
Chuck Jesiek has been going to Al and Bob's with his dad since he was 6 years old.
"The whole family has always been avid into hunting," he said.
Jesiek said he will go to see the new Cabela's, but it won't change where he shops.
"I'm just stuck in my old ways," he said.
Meanwhile, the nearby Gander Mountain store on Canal Avenue near 44th Street SW in Grandville is remodeling. Store officials said they are not concerned about the appearance of a Cabela's in the area.
"We always welcome healthy competition," said Ed Brierly, the store manager of the Gander Mountain store on 28th Street near E. Paris Avenue SE.
Officials said they realize Cabela's could slow sales once they first open, but feel Gander Mountain's customer service will bring them back. Their customers agree.
Hunter Marc McDonald said he likes the large variety and clothes at Cabela's, but when asked if he will he go to Cabela's or another local store to shop, he said he is not tied down.
"I think I'll go to both places," he said. "It just depends where I'm at, I guess."
24 Hour News 8's Amanda Jarrett contributed to this story.
A bill before the House would hold back third-grade students who are not proficient in reading.
Power lines blocked busy 28th Street near the Grand Rapids-Kentwood border Monday evening.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela will be honored Tuesday morning with a public memorial service expected to be viewed by people around the world.