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Ready, set, 8 days to go

Thu., Nov. 1, 2007, midnight

If outdoor lifestyles were religions, Cabela’s would be their cathedral. Known as the World’s Foremost Outfitter, Cabela’s will open its new 125,000-square-foot Post Falls store on Nov. 9.

A timber frame building, the retail outlet is nestled between Idaho’s hills and calls to mind giant National Parks lodges built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and ‘40s.

As many as 15,000 shoppers a day could frequent the store its first weekend, said Cabela’s spokeswoman Kari Blankenship.

They’ll find strolling through the store akin to a walk through Cabela’s catalogues come to life.

Ten themed departments carry everything they’ll need for hunting, fishing, kayaking, camping and more.

But perhaps most surprising is the amount of floor space given to women’s and children’s merchandise.

“Cabela’s is not just a man’s store, it’s for the whole family,” Blankenship said.

Home décor, footwear, sports clothes, toys and interactive displays will lure mom, the kids, the grandparents and non-hunters, too.

And everywhere shoppers look are life-size animals, birds and fish – along with murals of mountains, forests and prairies.

“It’s really important to us to make this more an experience for people so it feels like you’re in the outdoors while you’re here,” Blankenship said.

At the heart of the store is the chain’s signature Conservation Mountain. A bull moose wades in a trout pond at its base. Mule deer, prairie dogs, Grizzlies, bearded mountain goats, mountain lions and fleeing rabbits are just a few of the 75 critters that populate the display.

Blankenship said that after retailing, Cabela’s considers education its second mission.

“We love having kids come in, and we hope they get inspired to get in the outdoors,” Blankenship said.

Three of four classes of kids – from college age to kindergarten – are expected to visit the store every week, she said.

They’re drawn to such museum-quality displays as a walk-through aquarium, tended by a store biologist, and an African diorama of native species like warthogs, Lesser Kudu, Springbok and rhinoceros.

While stocking shelves last week, a new employee told a visitor Cabela’s will shuttle its workers in the first week to ensure shoppers have plenty of parking space.

“They say people will camp out (in the parking lot) to be the first to get in,” chimed another clerk.

If folks are traveling with dogs and horses, they’ll find free kennels and an outdoor corral available while they peruse the store.

And if they work up a hunger, foods like venison bratwurst and 40 flavors of fudge made on premises will be offered in The White Pines Cafe and an old-fashioned General Store.

Cabela’s will be open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

An official grand opening will be held sometime in January, said Ron Brekhus, the store’s general manager.


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