Dan Kessel, managing partner at Spring Hill Rod and Gun in South Charleston, believes his sales staff's experience and expertise will help his business offset Cabela's buying power and high-profile location.
"Our main ace in the hole, and one that I think will make the difference, is that we have a reputation for good customer service, good customer relations, and a good experienced staff," he said.
"We also have consistent, loyal customers who say they're going to continue to shop here. I have people tell me that every day."
Kessel also thinks the very fact that his store specializes in hunting and fishing gear sets it apart from Cabela's.
"A lot of Cabela's draw is that they sell clothing and other items that we don't sell anyway," he said.
In some ways, Kessel added, Cabela's presence might actually help his business.
"A big store like that does bring people into the area, and it might also get people who have lain dormant active again. We might be able to feed off their draw," he said.
Frank Addington, owner of Addington's Bowhunter Shop near Winfield, expects to lose at least some business to Cabela's, but only for minor purchases.
"They'll hurt what I call 'easy sales' -- small items like [deer lure] scents and stuff like that," Addington said. "The convenience of their store will give me competition. But where bow sales are concerned, I don't think our business will change."
Part of Addington's confidence stems from his knowledge that he has exclusive local sales rights for Mathews bows, one of the most sought-after brands. He also stocks a sizable inventory of upgrade and repair parts for the Mathews line.
"I also know I'll have an advantage where service is concerned," Addington said. "I have 35 years' worth of experience at setting up and maintaining bows. How many of [Cabela's] employees are going to be able to say that?"
Like Kessel, Addington believes Cabela's presence might actually help him attract new customers.
"Any store that promotes archery is only going to help bring more people into the sport," he said. "When Gander Mountain built their big store up there at Southridge, it didn't hurt our business one bit. If anything it helped it, mainly because people could see the difference in the service they got from them and the service they got from me."
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or e-mail: johnmc...@wvgazette.com.