Camouflage-clad Cabela’s employee Jake Merritt sounded a duck call to direct Denver-area media from the parking lot into the nearly complete Lone Tree store July 30. Merritt set the tone for the sneak peek event, held two weeks before the store’s Aug. 15 public opening.
Inside, Cabela’s employees lounged around a faux campfire, surrounded by Cabela’s tents, backpacks, a lantern and cooler. Others offered samples of the store’s signature fudge and demonstrated fly fishing and archery. Another sounded a duck call from inside a camouflage blind — all of it under the eyes of mounted wildlife posed high on the walls of the 110,000-square-foot store.
The employees were playful, the excitement palpable.
“We expect thousands of people lined up before the ribbon cutting,” spokesman Joe Arterburn said. “They’ll probably be some overnight campers.”
Other Cabela’s employees, known as outfitters, said they’re anxious to share the store with the public.
“We want to show customers what we can do,” senior hard line manager Jeff Surry said. “Our job is to create that legendary Cabela’s experience.
“We cater to people that are going to go hunting in minus-20-degree weather to people that just want to hang out in the back yard in their flip flops.”
The Cabela’s experience, Surry said, includes taking a personal interest in customers, matching their outdoor abilities with the right gear and even pointing anglers to the state’s best fishing holes.
“We know where to go and how to get there,” said Jeff Butler, a former Colorado Division of Wildlife employee and lifetime fly fisherman who will work in the fishing department. “We’ll pull out maps and show you.
“They’re not just hiring clerks in this store. They’re hiring outfitters who have knowledge. It’s not just selling you something. We sell fun.”
Kirby Boos, popping out of a camouflaged duck blind to demonstrate game calls, clearly was having fun.
“I’ve had a passion for teaching people about the outdoors all my life, and now I get to do it every day,” said the Littleton resident.
In the gun library, Toby Spanel proudly pointed to a late 1800s Winchester rifle bearing a $32,500 price tag he said the Arapahoe County sheriff ordered during the City Hall War of 1894, a conflict prompted by the then-governor’s attempted forcible removal of several City of Denver employees. It’s among several collector guns featured in the library.
“I feel really honored to be able to work here,” Spanel said.
The Lone Tree store also includes a mountain replica with mounted game animals, which Cabela’s calls its conservation mountain. It includes an interactive display with information on each of the mountain’s species. Other features include two cold-water fish aquariums and a cafe.
Cabela’s hired more than 200 employees at its Lone Tree site, the larger of two Denver-area stores opening simultaneously. A 90,000-square-foot store also will debut in Thornton. Doors open on both stores at 11 a.m. Aug. 15.
The company, launched in 1961, bills itself as the largest mail-order, retail and Internet outdoor outfitter in the world.