SCARBOROUGH – It’ll be hard for local residents to overlook the grand opening of the Cabela’s store that marks its foray onto L.L. Bean’s home turf this week.
Here in Scarborough, it may be the biggest event of the year, possibly surpassing the town’s 350th anniversary celebration this summer, the town manager says. Extra security has been hired. Police will direct traffic. Overflow parking and shuttles will be made available.
Dwayne O’Roak II, an avid hunter in Scarborough, said he hopes to find more outdoorsmen like himself when he shops at Cabela’s, which sells hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise in catalogs, online and in stores like the one in Scarborough.
“I like to hunt and fish and I like to go to places where they talk about hunting and fishing,” said O’Roak, who hunts for deer and turkey.
Cabela’s decided to put its 125,000-square-foot store in Scarborough because of the state’s outdoor tradition and base of catalog customers in the region.
Like Bean, Cabela’s aims to transform shopping into an outdoor experience. Visitors to the Cabela’s store will be greeted by a two-story “mountain” rising from the floor and covered with trees and wildlife from North America, along with a waterfall that flows into a trout pond.
There’s also a 20,000-gallon aquarium filled with native fish from North America.
The average customer will spend 3 1/2 hours in the store, and half of the visitors will drive from 100 or more miles away, said spokesman John Castillo.
“I like to say Cabela’s is a retail store wrapped around an aquarium, wrapped around a natural history museum,” he said. “It’s more than fish hooks and hunting boots. It’s something for the entire family.”
Castillo played down Cabela’s location 25 miles south of Freeport, home of L.L. Bean, the outdoors outfitter founded by Leon Leonwood Bean.
“It’s a simple case of us recognizing the strength of the Maine and entire New England market and putting a store here. Bean is a fantastic company. We have quite a bit of respect for their history, tradition and operations,” he said.
For its part, L.L. Bean said it welcomes healthy competition and hopes that Cabela’s arrival will get more people to head outdoors.
“We’re in the business of encouraging a healthy outdoor lifestyle. In that regard, we welcome Cabela’s to Maine. We think competition is good and it’s a good thing we’re all inducing customers to get outside and enjoy the outdoors,” spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said.
The two companies are similar.
Maine-based L.L. Bean, which had $1.6 billion in revenue last year, operates 10 retail stores and 16 outlets and hopes to expand to 32 stores by 2012. Nebraska-based Cabela’s, with $2.4 billion in revenue last year, has 27 retail stores and another three in the works.
L.L. Bean’s 24-hour store in Freeport has long been an attraction itself, with 220,000 square feet of retail space and an indoor trout pond.