Cabela’s rep promises Grand Junction store will be unique

A stuffed mountain lion leaps at Cabela’s customers from a branch of a tree, one of many examples of taxidermy in the store.



Standing in front of the diorama and waterfall at the mall entrance, John Castillo points out various details within the new Cabela’s, which is set to open May 20 at Mesa Mall.



With 27 Cabela’s new-store openings under his belt and No. 28 just weeks away, John Castillo still gets excited every time that first customer walks in the door.

“I’m always eager to hear what they think and to see if we’ve hit the target we were aiming for,” said Castillo, public relations manager for the Sidney, Neb.-based chain of popular outdoor stores.

Castillo was taking an hour from a hectic preopening schedule to show off the new Grand Junction store, which is set to open to the public at 4 p.m. May 20.

Wending his way through head-high stacks of boxes remaining to be unpacked and past the baleful stare of a huge Shiras moose whose impressive visage will be the first thing most store visitors see, Castillo said every store has its own personality.

“Each store is different, with its own attitude and culture,” said Castillo, now in his 13th year with Cabela’s. “Not only different physically, but the whole theme is different. This store in Grand Junction will be different from the store in Lehi, Utah, or Gonzales, Louisiana.”

Not to worry, however, all of you familiar with the Cabela’s usual presentation of fine taxidermy, impressive wildlife art and enough camouflage clothing to cover, well, Gonzales, La., where camouflage is the daily wear.

“Only they wear real light-weight camouflage,” Castillo said with a laugh. “Not like the stuff we wear in Nebraska. We weren’t ready for that.”

This new store will have everything you expect to find at any Cabela’s, filling 70,000 square feet in what formerly was a Mervyn’s. But that’s where the resemblance to a mid-priced clothing store ends.

As expected, taxidermy abounds, much of it on a level where you can actually see the animals.

The high walls are dominated by old-time hunting and fishing displays, and four hand-painted murals showing western Colorado scenes, including one of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, catch your eye as you wander the store.

There is the familiar wildlife diorama over the mall entrance, where customers will walk past a small waterfall and under the mounted taxidermy of bighorn sheep, black bears, wolves, mountain goats and pronghorn, all caught in real-life action.

“This is one of my favorite places,” said Castillo as he entered the Gun Library, where rare and hard-to-find collector’s firearms will be stored and displayed in eye-catching cases of dark walnut. “We did it in walnut instead of the usual maple especially for the Grand Junction store.”

Castillo estimated the store will carry around 60,000 different items, including outdoors clothing specially made for women and youths. Customers also can shop Cabela’s entire inventory at in-store computer terminals and will be able to pick up orders shipping-free at the store.

Castillo looked around at what seemed to be controlled chaos. Everywhere he turned, store employees, most of them local residents, were stacking shoes, folding clothes, unpacking everything from camouflage-design pens to some of the 1,000 or so fishing rods to be on display and polishing the countless surfaces gleaming under bright lights.

Everything is pointing toward May 20.

“Can you believe we’ve only been in here nine days?” he asked a visitor. “This group of employees is amazing.”

Also expected for the May 20 grand opening are Dick and Mary Cabela, who along with Dick’s brother Jim were the chain’s original founders.


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