It's not easy to sell the great outdoors at new Cabela's store

Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2000

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) -- When a Canton, South Dakota, man caught a state record largemouth bass last fall, he knew right where he wanted it to be displayed.

At the Cabela's outdoor store that recently opened in Mitchell.

''It's great,'' said Richard Viereck. ''I'm glad everybody's going to get to see it.''

Viereck's 9-pound, 3-ounce largemouth bass is swimming in a 10,000-gallon aquarium built in the store, which opened earlier this month.

The aquarium is just one of the many natural settings constructed at the 90,000-square-foot store.

The newest Cabela's store also includes a 32-foot high mountain with wild game trophies, outdoors nesting boxes for ducks and geese, a 3- to 4-acre outdoor pond, as well as an indoor waterfall and a stream with live fish and a huge, hand-painted mural depicting an outdoors scene.

''It's kind of funny, because you're trying to re-create a lot of nature at a Cabela's store, and you're having to build it to do it,'' said Kurt Hintze, retail store manager.

Cabela's has hired 204 workers out of the approximately 2,800 who applied.

As part of the hiring process, applicants took a 127- to 140-question test on all aspects of the outdoors, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, boating, marine, footwear and clothing.

Candidates passed if they correctly answered at least 85 questions, Hintze said. On average, Cabela's applicants have a 3 percent pass rate, and in Mitchell, the pass rate was slightly above that.

''It's difficult, because there are a lot of sports people that enjoy the outdoors or are interested in certain aspects of the outdoor business. They're maybe an avid walleye fisherman or a diehard bowhunter, but there aren't a lot of people who have an understanding of all aspects of the outdoors, especially what it takes to pass it,'' he said.

In summer, when 12,000- to 13,000 shoppers are likely to visit the store on any given Saturday, the newest Cabela's will employ about 220 people, he said.

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