I grew up in California where an "outdoor store" meant REI or some similar eco-friendly, lightweight hi-tech-geared frolic in the wilderness kind of place. I'm not sure what the East Coast equivalent is - maybe EMS (Eastern Mountain Stores.) It wasn't until I started driving back and forth across the country on my book tours, that I encountered Cabela's.
It is, as my girlfriend put it when I first took her to one, "REI for people who like to shoot stuff."
Now I happen to like Cabela's. I don't hunt, fish, butcher my own meat or many of the other things that one can equip oneself for there, but still, I find the enormous stores endlessly fascinating. And they do carry a large variety of stuff that I do want: clothing, shoes, geegaws and doodads, pocket knives, great first aid kits, the best selection of cast iron cookware I've ever seen, etc.
The sad thing about this is that I have a number of friends here on the West Coast, and some on the East Coast who are going to think I'm being sarcastic, or ironic, or something other than honest about the fact that I like Cabela's so much. You know who you are.
I would like to encourage those friends of mine to take a couple of long road trips across the country; taking their time, talking with a whole lot of people whose lives are different than their own, seeing the stores that sell different stuff, eating the food that most people in this country really eat, etc. I do not think it is possible to truly understand or appreciate the United States when you confine yourself to its coasts, and maybe from time to time Chicago.
Now that isn't to say that there aren't some things about places like Cabela's that I dont' find bewildering. I just received their fall catalog in the mail, and here are some items from it that I find odd, amusing, interesting. I can understand what they're for, and why some of my fellow Cabela's shoppers might find them indispensable; but as I mentioned, I don't hunt. At least not the sort of hunting this stuff is for.
I do suppose that if I ever want to show up at a Halloween party costumed as Bigfoot, this would come in very handy.
On the other hand, if I do find myself in the woods during hunting season, I'd far rather be dressed in colors that scream, "Don't shoot!."
It has been said that accessories make the outfit. Paris Hilton, and others of her ilk, most likely do not shop much at Cabela's. But one of the accessories I've seen pictures of her with, is her pooch in her purse. I was pleased to see that Cabela's offers its version of the same thing. And a much more impressive version in my opinion.
As mentioned earlier, I do honestly like Cabela's, a lot. But there are certain things about it that give my Left Coast-liberal, gun-control-favoring heart and head moments of pause. I find the text on this page somewhat frightening. I don't think Ted Nugent would. But I never much liked his music either."The Freak Nasty is just that. It's the bad boy of the ScentBlocker® line. It has everything I need to get close and drop the hammer on the big boys."