September 29, 2020

Cabela's Still Eyeing Maine For New Store Location

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Cabela’s has been looking for new store locations in the New England area. So far they seemed to have settled on opening up a store in East Hartford, Connecticut in the fall of 2007. Aside from that, no decisions have been made on another site or if there will be another site, according to Jim Aterburn, spokesman for the Nebraska based company Cabela’s.Aterburn says they base their decisions on where a good market is for stand alone stores and Internet buyers as well. Cabela’s has shown an interest in the southern Maine town of Scarborough.

Here is a link to Jamie McLeod’s article in the Forcaster about Cabela’s strategies.

Here are a few highlights of the story.

Jim Arterburn, spokesman for the Sidney, Neb.-based company, said he is not certain when a decision will be made, but said Cabela’s has a strong interest in southern Maine.

That should be an exciting prospect for Mainers and in particular southern Mainers but will it be? Here’s more.

“There are a lot of good Cabela’s customers in Maine. That’s how we site our stores, by looking at where our core catalog and Internet customers are,” Arterburn said.

Oh, yes! More good news.

He said he is not personally familiar with the proposed site for the store and won’t have more details until an official decision is made. Town Manager Ron Owen confirmed that the company has identified a specific site, but said he is not at liberty to reveal the location.

Hmmm! A bit iffy? Not familiar with the site? Town Manager is not at liberty? What kind of liberties does he have?

He acknowledged Cabela’s reputation for aggressively seeking tax incentives when it builds a new store, but said the company has placed stores in areas where no tax incentives were offered and would likely do so again, given the right location.

“We like to get tax incentives when we can, absolutely,” Arterburn said.

But Owen said the town has no intention of offering Cabela’s any kind of tax incentives.

“We do not currently offer tax incentives to anyone,” Owen said.

Well, now, that is certainly encouraging! And the Town Manager’s attitude seems to come shining through just a tad more here.

Owen said he can think of only one instance in which lack of tax incentives may have cost the town a commercial development

Seems like reason enough for me to sit smugly by and watch what could be a few nice jobs go to some other town – or state.

Owen said Scarborough remains an attractive area for development mainly due to its location, easy access to major highways and its low overall tax rate, which can serve, over time, to balance the benefits of a tax incentive elsewhere.

Owen also said he recently received correspondence from a national competitor of Cabela’s, also based in the Midwest, urging the town not to offer the store a tax break.

Now this sounds like sound business practices. I’m sure the Town Manager didn’t heed the advice of a “national competitor”. Yikes!

Arterburn said Cabela’s hasn’t given much thought to L.L. Bean’s presence in Maine.

“We make our retail siting decisions based on the facts before us and our marketing resources. We don’t worry too much about competition. Each store has its own customer base and traditions, and I think we’ll coexist fine,” he said.

This has to be the telltale sign of what is to come. Aterburn says he hasn’t given much thought to L.L. Beans being nearby. Are you kidding me? Beans isn’t Cabela’s but it isn’t Joe’s Bait Shop either.

This all pretty much tells me that Aterburn is politicking with the public and stroking them pretty good to make sure Mainers will continue to be good Cabela’s customers when they locate a new store in southern New Hampshire – or somewhere else where there are better tax incentives. Then what will be Town Manager Ron Owen’s excuse?

Maine is one of those states that has a pretty high unemployment rate compared to other states and provides few jobs with chances for promotion and benefits. But I guess where Scarborough hasn’t given any tax breaks before, that’s reason enough for the rest of the residents of Scarborough to keep on paying those taxes.

I guess it isn’t really that far a drive from Scarborough over to Concord or Manchester, New Hampshire.

Tom Remington

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