Bass Pro Shops never made it to Western New York, but one of its arch rivals will be coming.
Outdoor sports and hunting retailer Cabela’s will be setting up shop in the former Wegmans Markets store on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga, in the Walden Village shopping plaza across from Walden Galleria.
Cabela’s will occupy the 104,245-square-foot space that formerly housed the supermarket. That will be the first store in New York State for the Sidney, Neb.-based company, which has 41 stores nationwide and three in Canada, but only three locations in the entire Northeast. It will also be one of 11 new stores that have been announced or are in the works.
The 209,459-square-foot plaza is owned by Benderson Development Co., which has scheduled a formal announcement for 2 p.m. on Monday, with the retailer as well as Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Mary F. Holtz and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, on hand.
“It’s an absolutely outstanding location, and Cabela’s is actually a little more popular than Bass Pro, because they offer a wider variety of things,” said Robert P. Strell, a local real estate adviser and owner of MBA Consulting & Appraisal Co.
The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., together with city and state officials, spent several years courting Bass Pro in an effort to convince the retailer to locate one of its massive stores in the Canalside development in downtown Buffalo, on the site of the former Memorial Auditorium. The effort ultimately fell through, and city and state officials abandoned the idea of a major project and refocused their redevelopment efforts.
Founded in 1961 by brothers Dick and Jim Cabela, Cabela’s is a global catalog, Internet and store retailer, and calls itself the leading outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear. Although its network of stores is limited, they are effectively destinations for the company’s loyal customers. And its core catalog business produces nearly 100 different editions per year, including specialty books on specific outdoor pursuits, and are shipped to all 50 states and 125 countries. The company has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 2004.
“They have a pretty good following. They have a great catalog, with great products, and they’re probably a natural fit for this area,” Strell said. “They will certainly create more competition for Dick’s [Sporting Goods] and Gander Mountain and everyone else who’s out there.”
Strell said Cabela’s had been looking in the Western New York area more than two years ago, mostly focused around Batavia, which he thought would have been “a natural for that area.” But he said the Cheektowaga location is “probably a great idea.”
Benderson acquired the 24-acre plaza for $10.5 million last fall, buying it from Capmark Financial, a commercial real estate lender that had foreclosed on the prior owner’s mortgage.
The plaza, which was built more than 30 years ago on the site of a former Sorrento Cheese warehouse, is anchored by Burlington Coat Factory and also had a Chase-Pitkin home improvement store and Ultimate Electronics at one time. Other tenants include Olive Garden restaurant, Jared’s Jewelry and Smoky Bones.