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January 19, 2011

The Wichita Eagle

Cabela's, the Nebraska-based giant national outdoor retailer, is coming to Wichita's Regency Lakes shopping center at 21st and Greenwich in spring 2012.

"Cabela's can go to any city in America, and they decided to come to Wichita, America," said George Laham, president of Laham Development and the Regency Lakes developer.

"That says a lot about Wichita."

Construction on the 80,000-square-foot store will start this summer.

"Competition is good for everybody," said Todd Barker, manager of Gander Mountain at downtown's WaterWalk development.

"We'll keep doing what we're doing," Barker said of the Wichita store, which is one of the chain's highest-producing stores.

Gander Mountain opened at WaterWalk in 2005 after an effort to lure Bass Pro Shops fell apart over public financing of the project.

City Council member Sue Schlapp was involved in trying to lure Bass Pro.

"I am a person who believes downtown is your center," she said.

Still, Regency Lakes is in her district, and she's thrilled Cabela's is going there.

"Cabela's is a fabulous attraction," Schlapp said. "It's a wonderful thing."

She doesn't quibble with the chain's selection of northeast Wichita over downtown.

"If they feel that that's a better place for them ... who am I to tell them something different?"

Cabela's, which was represented by Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, will locate along K-96 north of the 20,000-square-foot World Market at Regency Lakes. There will be room for a 50,000-square-foot retailer between the stores.

Regency Lakes opened in 2005 with a 175,000-square-foot SuperTarget. World Market opened the following year.

There's also a 110-room Hampton Inn at the development along with Chili's, Subway and Kanza Bank.

"Progress has been very steady in spite of ... economic times," Laham said.

Still, he said, Cabela's "will change the landscape of Regency Lakes."

In addition to the 50,000-square-foot space next to where Cabela's will go, there are two remaining pad sites along Greenwich for either retail or restaurant use and a 15,000-square-foot retail center at 21st and Greenwich.

The Cabela's announcement will help fill those vacancies.

"It will change the direction of retail in northeast Wichita," Laham said.

He said he designed Regency Lakes to be a regional retail center and calls Cabela's "a major draw."

The retailer's approximately 190,000-square-foot Kansas City, Kan., store is one of the state's leading tourist attractions.

John Rolfe, president and CEO of Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he expects the same for the Wichita Cabela's.

"It's going to be a great addition for our local residents but also certainly ... a tourism draw," he said.

"It would be great to have another venue such as a Cabela's downtown, but we're certainly glad to see it coming into our city."

The store will have the traditional Cabela's design, with log construction, wood siding, stonework and a metal roof. A glass storefront will allow customers to see a lot of the store's interior as they approach.

Inside, customers will be immersed in the outdoors with trophy animal mounts and conservation-themed wildlife displays.

"Kansans are no strangers to Cabela's or the outdoors," Cabela's CEO Tommy Millner said in a statement. "It's because of their loyalty to our brand and their passion for sports like hunting, fishing and camping that we're able to build another store in the Sunflower State."

The chain, which sells thousands of products related to fishing, hunting, camping, boating, hiking and wildlife-watching, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Cabela's has 31 stores across the United States and Canada and five more, including Wichita, in the works.

John Parsons, owner of Parsons Taxidermy in Derby, designs a line of functional art products for Cabela's and is thrilled the retailer is coming to Wichita.

"It's great news for anyone who likes the outdoors and hunting and fishing, that's for darn sure," he said.

Parsons said that when he told his employees the news, "They just threw up their arms and said, 'Outstanding!'

"They're excited."

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or
© 2011 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


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