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FORT WORTH, TX-The first Cabela’s store has opened here, marking the Sidney, NE-based retailer’s foray into a big city. It was a “soft grand opening” meaning that it was unadvertised, and the official grand opening is scheduled for July 15.

“The merchandise selection for a store like this doesn’t change as much as you think (compared to a store in a smaller market),” Roger Verholz, head of retail merchandizing for the retailer, said during a presentation at the store.

The 230,000-sf store, which is located at the intersection of Interstate 35W and Texas 170, welcomed nearly 25,000 customers during its first day of operations. Over four million annual visitors are expected to visit the Fort Worth store, which is staffed by almost 500 employees.

The store includes a boat showroom and maintenance shop, along with a 40-foot Conservation Mountain, 12,000-sf trophy deer museum and a 65,000-gallon aquarium. Moreover, it features a laser arcade, furniture department, gun library, restaurant, general store, fly-fishing shop, bargain cave and gift shop. Only six Cabela’s stores have a furniture department, Verholz notes.

“Coming to Texas, we saw the need to regionalize our assortment after doing an analysis of our catalog customers,” Verholz says. For example, the retailer saw the need to increase its product offering related to saltwater fishing.

The store, which sells hunting and fishing licenses, is designed in a racetrack format. Roughly 75% of the merchandise is related to outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and camping. The remaining inventory is comprised of lifestyle related products such asapparel, furniture and gifts. The softgoods are situated in the middle of the store, while hunting and fishing supplies on the sides. The camping section is on the second floor, along with the restaurant.

About 15% of the store’s size is used for back-office warehouse activities and security offices. The store, which has 256 security cameras, is projected to achieve $400 in sales per sf.

Cabela’s will open its second Texas store, located in the Austin suburb of Buda, next month. The Buda store will be smaller than the Fort Worth store at 185,000 sf. The Fort Worth store is Cabela’s 11th retail location in the United States, and the Buda store will be number 12.

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