UNION GAP, Wash. -- Cabela's announced Thursday it is introducing a new store format that will bring the outdoor sporting goods retailer to Washington Plaza, a shopping center under construction at the former Costco property.
The Sidney, Neb., company announced the Union Gap store, the first under its smaller "Cabela's Outpost Store" format, during its fourth-quarter earnings call to shareholders.
Cabela's plans to open the 40,000-square-foot store by this fall.
The store will be smaller than the 66,000-square-foot JCPenney being built at the development at 1400 E. Washington Ave. Both stores are expected to open around the same time.
While the Cabela's Outpost Store format is smaller, it will feature products and outdoor displays seen at larger Cabela's stores, which typically are upwards of 100,000 square feet or more, company officials the company said in a news release.
"They will extend our footprint into smaller markets and increase the range in which the Cabela's retail experience reaches our loyal customers," CEO Tommy Millner said in the release.
While many Cabela's locations are in smaller towns, they're often in the vicinity of larger populations. The Post Falls, Idaho, store, for example, is just a half-hour drive from Spokane.
Fred Bruning, president of CenterCal Properties, owner of Washington Plaza and the neighboring Valley Mall, confirmed the new store Wednesday after staying mum for several months.
"We're really excited to bring a retailer of this caliber," he said.
He believes that Cabela's will be a key draw for the development.
"I think the tourism potential of Cabela's will probably equal the wine industry in Yakima," he said in reference to the distance consumers have driven to other Cabela's stores.
The lease has not yet been signed, but should be done in the next few days, Bruning said.
Despite Cabela's popularity, local businesses that have served Yakima Valley's outdoor and hunting community remain optimistic.
Gary Fairbanks, owner of Fairbanks Outfitters, a fishing shop in Yakima, said he can compete on price, noting that he has ordered product for customers at a lower price than listed in the Cabela's catalogs.
"They have a huge selection," he said. "But (its) prices are quite high compared to mine."
Steve Van Klinken, owner of Grumpy's in Union Gap, said that a Cabela's store could impact his store, but didn't think it would lead him to go out of business.
"We're pretty diversified and we have other things they don't carry," he said, mentioning items such as surplus gear and heating pellets.
Cabela's has 34 stores, with plans to open eight more in the next two years. The Union Gap store will be the third in Washington state. A store in Lacey opened in 2007, and a store on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, near Everett, is under construction.
In the news release, Cabela's said other stores with the Cabela's Outpost Store concept are in the works, but no specifics were given.
Cabela's announcement comes several months after JCPenney identified itself as the first anchor for the $40 million, 10-acre development when it submitted land use documents to the city of Union Gap.
Despite Bruning and Union Gap officials keeping the Cabela's deal under wraps, there were hints that the retailer was looking at the market, including a recent report of a private jet arriving from Cabela's headquarters city. Cabela's has looked here before.
In 2007, CenterCal initially lost out to developers who had plans to bring Cabela's to the area. The retailer also was mentioned in a January 2008 site plan submitted to Union Gap development officials.
But just a few weeks later, Cabela's announced it was scaling back its expansion plans, backing away from a Yakima Valley location.
Later in 2008, CenterCal appeared to be in line to buy the property, but the two parties could not settle on the purchase price.
Negotiations resumed in the fall of 2010 and were completed last August, when CenterCal bought the property.