It is with sad hearts that Gun Digest reports reliable sources close to the Cabela’s corporate offices are reporting that Dick Cabela, founder of the Cabela’s retail empire, passed away this morning at his home in Sidney, Neb. He was 77. There are currently few details available, but the company is expected to release a statement soon.
The following account of the founding of Cabela’s is courtesy of the company’s website:
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, was born somewhat inadvertently in 1961 when Dick Cabela came up with a plan to sell fishing flies he purchased while at a furniture show in Chicago. Upon returning home to Chappell, Nebraska, Dick ran a classified ad in the Casper, Wyoming, newspaper reading: “12 hand-tied flies for $1.” It generated one response.
Undaunted, Dick formulated a new plan, rewriting the ad to read “FREE Introductory offer! 5 hand tied Flies….25c Postage….Handling” and placing it in national outdoor magazines. It didn’t take long for the orders to begin arriving from sportsmen and women around the country.
In typical direct-mail style, each order was mailed out with a mimeographed catalog of outdoor items Dick and his wife, Mary, added to their product line. In the beginning, Dick and Mary ran the business from the kitchen table of their home in Chappell.
By 1964, continued success and growth demanded a bigger and better location. The operation was moved from their kitchen table to the basement of Dick and Jim’s father’s furniture store and then on to various buildings in Chappell. In 1969, Cabela’s was operating in a 50,000 square-foot vacant John Deere building in neighboring downtown Sidney, Nebraska.
Click here for the complete Cabela’s history and Dick’s role in this industry-changing retailer.