Flirting with Cabela’s

Late summer, 1990. Cabela’s, the “World’s Foremost Outfitter,” was advertising for a catalog copywriter. Relocation required to Sidney, Neb.IMG_1659

I had some copywriting experience from stringing for Bass Pro Shops.

I talked it over with my wife, who was five month pregnant with our twins.

Wonderfully supportive as always, Katy had only one question: “Does it sound like something you think you would enjoy doing?”

“I think it might be. And it’s a great company.”

“Then why don’t we apply.”

I did. And somewhat to my surprise an interview followed.  The rental car drive from Denver to Sidney took longer than the flight from Memphis to Denver. If you’ve never been to Sidney, Neb., let me share that it is a beautiful spot. Winters are brutally cold; summers blistering hot. But the plains have a beauty of their own; akin in a stark way to the Mississippi delta. A place like no other.

You probably know the Cabela’s story, which began in 1961 at Dick and Mary Cabela’s kitchen table with an idea and a foreshadowing of marketing genesis. They were soon joined by Dick’s brother Jim and the World’s Foremost Outfitter was off and running. Today’s Cabela’s is a billion dollar company and while still a mail order giant, it has expanded to become an Internet colossus while establishing nearly 50 retail stores scattered across the United States and Canada, including one in Louisville, Ky.

Here’s a link to my story in Kentucky Monthly about the opening on the Cabela’s store in Louisville.

I don’t recall much about the job interview in Sidney except that the people were so nice they seemed too good to be true. The morning interview was followed by lunch, a tour of the town and the surrounding area, then dinner. I flew home the next day thinking that my growing family could make a home here. I left with only one regret; that I hadn’t had an opportunity to meet Mr. Cabela. I’d actually been brazen enough to ask but was told that both Dick and Jim were out of town.

The job offer didn’t come my way. I did receive a nice letter thanking me for my time and interest in Cabela’s. My interest hasn’t waned. Half the gear in my office is stamped with Dick and Jim’s name.

Dick Cabela, who was never my employer but always a fellow hunter and fisherman and by all account a fine man, died yesterday. He was 77.