Don’t panic about Cabela’s, Lacey finance director tells council

The future of the 185,000-square-foot store is clearly on the minds of city officials.

By Rolf Boone

The Olympian

LACEY — After Lacey City Council took a preliminary look at its 2017 budget on Thursday, Mayor Andy Ryder asked a question that has been on the minds of a lot of area residents since Monday.

“What’s going to happen to Cabela’s?”

That’s because the competing business Bass Pro announced on Monday that it’s buying Nebraska-based Cabela’s for $5.5 billion.

Cabela’s, which also operates a chain of stores that sells goods for the outdoors, runs a store in Lacey. It opened in 2007 with 350 employees, according to Olympian archives. As of May 2014, it employed about 300 workers, according to the Thurston Economic Development Council.

In addition to local employment, it also generates an unspecified, though significant, amount of sales tax revenue for the city.

“I would suggest we don’t panic,” Finance Director Troy Woo told a curious council Thursday night. “Let’s wait and see what happens.”

However, the future of the 185,000-square-foot store is clearly on the minds of city officials.

Woo said that he and Community Development Director Rick Walk recently looked at maps to see where Cabela’s had market share, compared to Missouri-based Bass Pro.

Bass Pro has more stores on the East Coast, which might mean they retain Cabela’s stores on the West Coast. Bass Pro, though, also has a store in Tacoma — 19 miles from the Cabela’s in Lacey.

Councilman Jeff Gadman said he remains optimistic that the Cabela’s in Lacey won’t close. If they built a Bass Pro that close to Cabela’s in the first place, they must feel that there are enough customers for both stores, he said.

Cabela’s in Lacey falls into a “sporting goods, hobbies, music and books” category that generated $571,600 in sales tax revenue the past year, Woo said on Monday. That is the sixth largest sales tax revenue category for the city. Cabela’s likely represents the majority of that category.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2017.