Cabela’s opens new stores in Texas, New Mexico

Thousands of customers stand in a line that wound its way through the parking lot to enter Cabela’s, the national outdoor outfitter, during it's grand opening on Thursday, September 21, 2017. (Photo: Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Thousands of customers stand in a line that wound its way through the parking lot to enter Cabela’s, the national outdoor outfitter, during it’s grand opening on Thursday, September 21, 2017. (Photo: Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Cabela’s opened two new stores this month in Texas and New Mexico — just days before finalizing a merger with competitor Bass Pro Shops, scheduled Monday.

The outdoor retailer’s seventh Texas location opened in El Paso on Sept. 14, according to the company’s social media channels. Its first New Mexico store opened in Albuquerque Thursday.

“We are a Cabela’s 3.0,” Tess Clark, the El Paso Cabela’s retail marketing manager, told KFOX 14 News of the 50,000 square foot store. “We are the first store of this size, gearing in on the customer experience and outfitting each of our customers for their next outdoor adventure.”

Combined, the stores employ 285 staff and both offer Cabela’s “gun hub,” described as a 3-D handgun kiosk simulating live fire with a CO2 recoil.

“You’re able to learn how to shoot and what you may be doing wrong,” Clark said. “It’s almost like an indoor gun range without the indoor gun range. You can try before you buy.”

The Albuquerque store’s grand opening drew thousands last week, according to local media.

“We are excited to be here,” General Manager Chris Wilson told the Albuquerque Journal Thursday. “The support from the community that we have had since the ground-breaking has been incredible.”

The new stores bring Cabela’s nationwide footprint up to 89 locations. Shares for the Nebraska-based outdoor retailer jumped by double digits earlier this month after federal regulators approved the company’s plan to sell off its consumer credit arm — World’s Foremost Bank — to Synovus Corp. as part of a $5 billion merger with Bass Pro Shops. The deal will close Monday, according to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

What will become of the 2,000 employees based at the Cabela’s headquarters in Sydney, Nebraska — about six hours west of Omaha — remains a question mark. The retailer employs more than a quarter of the town’s 7,000 residents and economists warn job cuts will come, but likely not at the store level.

Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business who focuses on mergers and acquisitions, told the North Platte Telegraph last week it’s the company’s administrative positions most at risk for cuts since Bass Pro will consolidate both operations at their headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.

“The company will need a transition period to keep things running, but the long-term outlook isn’t good for people in those functions,” Gordon told the newspaper.

Cabela’s laid off 70 employees in March, though Bass Pro founder and Chief Executive Johnny Morris said he wants to retain “a significant presence” in Sydney. He has yet to elaborate on what that might mean.