Sports Business

Cabelas could be very good for retail market

March 3, 2012
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Scott Wierda of CWD Real Estate Investment apparently knew what he was talking about when he said landing Cabela’s for the firm’s development in Grandville would have a “significant impact on our leasing efforts for the balance of the shopping center.”

The most recent local data on the retailer revealed Wierda is on to something.

Bill Bussey, the managing member of Retail and Restaurant Site Advisors LLC, said he did a market study for Cabela’s four or five years ago and found that more than twice as many hunting and fishing licenses had been issued on this side of the state than in southeast Michigan, where the retailer already has a store in Dundee.

Bussey said the study’s results indicated that the area should be a “very strong market” for Cabela’s, partly because of the area’s number of hunters and fishermen and partly because of the many items the store offers customers. “Because of their size, even with the smaller format planned for Grand Rapids, their larger sporting-goods offerings are like comparing the grocery choices at Meijer vs. Family Fare,” he said.

Jim Decker, partner and president at NAI Wisinski of West Michigan, felt that bringing Cabela’s here is a big confidence booster for the retail market. “It’s an indicator that a prominent and well-known large national retailer has confidence in the West Michigan market. A positive attitude and culture should prevail for all. It’s possible that Cabela’s move into the market may prompt other national big-box retailers to enter our market,” said Decker.

Bussey also thought the store, which will offer 88,000 square feet of merchandise, would draw a lot of customers to the CWD development. “The Grand Rapids location should pull customers from as far away as Chicago to the west and Traverse City in the north. For the Chicago customer, being just off I-196 makes it very convenient,” he said.

Decker felt much the same way. “Even though the Rivertown Cabela’s will be a third the size of the Dundee store, there is no doubt that the new store will substantially increase traffic and shoppers to the area,” he said. “Cabela’s is a destination retailer that will bring shoppers who normally wouldn’t enter our market, and new shoppers in our market can only be positive for other retailers.”

Kent County Commissioner Stan Ponstein, who represents Grandville on the board, said a Cabela’s official told him that the company was impressed with the relationship the city has with businesses. He noted that having good relations with business owners wasn’t exclusive to Grandville officials, but said they did play a role in helping CWD bring the store there.

Ponstein also said that Cabela’s wasn’t interested in buying a vacant plot of land and then building on it.

“This is a tremendous thing for the site. It’s going to bring jobs,” he said.

Wierda and his CWD partners, Dan DeVos and Sam Cummings, are developing 386,000 square feet for their project. The Cabela’s site will be at the southeast corner of 44th Street and Ivanrest Avenue, which was the former location of X-Rite. CWD launched its project in 2009 and began construction on the site last fall. Earl Clements of Colliers International of West Michigan helped broker the deal.

Cabela’s plans to build three of what the company calls its “next-generation,” or smaller, stores in the nation’s midsection this year. Besides Grandville, stores are planned for Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky.

Construction on all three is expected to get underway this summer; the stores should open in 2013. Each store will employ from 175 to 200 workers. Cabela’s owns and operates 34 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Bussey said Cabela’s decision to open one of its first smaller-format stores here spoke volumes about the retailer’s opinion of the strength of this market.

“Typically, Cabela’s considers that their primary market area is a 150-mile radius from the store, and I would say that they will indeed pull from that distance with the store,” he said. “The addition of Cabela’s and the new Target also has a great positive impact to the attractiveness of Grandville to other national retailers.”

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