If you follow the ACL Twitter you would have known all about my little adventure this past Sunday. I decided to make the drive out to Hamburg, PA for a little shopping. What possible store could warrant a two hour drive to the Lehigh Valley? One word: Cabela’s. It has been a few years since I stepped foot in one of the Nebraska retailer’s massive stores, and to be honest, I was pretty disappointed with what I found. While I know I am not the target demo for such a store, I will say that I found the product mix to be fairly boring.
Most of the outerwear on offer is sold under the Cabela’s brand – which entirely consists of knockoff China-made versions of popular jackets from other labels. The other disturbing thing at Cabela’s is the insistence on decorating everything in that ugly hunter camouflage, which I find repulsive. (For more, read Brett’s comment in the L.L. Bean post.) Cabela’s puts that camo on everything you can think of. I can see the sales meetings in my head: “This is a really nice lamp, but you know what would make it better?” Again, I’m sure they do this for a reason and stupid blog people from Manhattan should just stay out of it. I’m not trying to bash the operation just because it doesn’t appeal to me. (Although, the selection of boots was definitely appealing.) I’m sure Cabela’s knows what its customers want – and I’m guessing it has a lot to do with price. I just think there is a lot of potential there.
Another place that has a rich history and a lot of potential is an equally esteemed American retailer from Seattle – Eddie Bauer. Below are some scans from their 1966 catalog showing all sorts of well made goods from companies like C.C. Filson and Woolrich, right along side some of Eddie Bauer’s own products. Now, if I was to drive out to the Garden State Plaza to an Eddie Bauer store, I’m not sure I would even know the company that put out this catalog and the company in that mall in New Jersey (nothing against Jersey – I’m a fan) are related. (We’re not even going to discuss Abercrombie & Fitch.) In the past year Eddie Bauer has released a few new products that are intended to be more functional (or historical) than some of their other offerings. But while I am definitely intrigued, I’m not totally sold. I would love to see Eddie Bauer reconnect with 1966 and re-release some of their amazing outerwear that is made in the U.S – outerwear that made the company famous. That is the heritage I am interested in. The company has a rich history and I would love to see more of that in product rather than marketing or product packaging. Then again, who cares what some fake-hunter-hipster in Manhattan wants.