TULALIP — Customers lined up around the block and filled up the overflow parking lot west of the Tulalip Resort to take part in the official grand opening of the Tulalip Cabela's store on Thursday, April 19.
"Washington is rich with outdoor recreation opportunities, and many people in this area are longtime Cabela's catalog and Internet customers," Cabela's CEO Tommy Millner said. "We're excited to open another store in the Evergreen State, making our services even more accessible to its hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts."
"There's been a buzz in the community surrounding our opening," said Kevin Weeks, Tulalip Cabela's store manager. "I know there's enthusiasm for the new store in other parts of the state and Canada as well."
The Bellingham trio of Taryn Seiler and Jake and Jordyn Veliz nabbed some of the last of a few varieties of sweatshirts by arriving at the Tulalip Cabela's at 5:30 a.m. to wait for its 11 a.m. opening.
"This place is amazing," said Seiler, one of many customers fascinated by the fish tanks.
Fellow Bellingham resident Gordon Durham made the trek to check out the Tulalip Cabela's rods, reels and waders. A fisherman since childhood, Durham was one of a number of customers already familiar with Cabela's through their Lacey store, although he'd also visited their branch in his native Tennessee.
"They've got a great selection and product availability," said Durham, who fishes for salmon, steelhead and trout. "The latter is the best part."
Durham's only regret was that the Cabela's hadn't opened in Bellingham instead.
Snohomish's Scott Sieb and Todd Britsch each checked out the crossbows in turn, with Sieb declaring his intentions to hunt some big game and Britsch expressing his gratitude for the shorter commute from his home to this Tulalip store versus the one in Lacey.
"That's an hour and a half drive," said Britsch, who was also in the market for handguns and ammunition. "We do a lot of online shopping with Cabela's, but it's not the same as being able to try on the clothes yourself."
Arlington was well represented in the crowds that turned out for the grand opening, with at least a couple of families bringing their kids on a school day to browse through the store's wares. Arlington mom Kathy Estes had her 7-year-old son Hunter try on lifejackets, while Arlington dad Robert Fleming shopped for hunting gear with his own 13-year-old son Erik.
"We're doing target practice with rifles and bows and arrows," said Robert Fleming, who also goes fishing with Erik. "The whole Cabela's experience is great. We've been to the stores in Lacey and in Idaho, but we always had to make a special stop of it before, when we were passing through those areas.
Lake Stevens' Andy Laimon and Vicky White are no strangers to Cabela's either, with Laimon having attended three grand openings of Cabela's stores, including the one in Tulalip. He was able to relax and check out crab traps that Thursday, but on Monday, April 23, he'll be starting work as an employee of the Tulalip Cabela's store, in the archery department.
"I love everything about this store," Laimon said. "I could wander around here and wear her out."
"Their camping equipment keeps me motivated to go outdoors, even in the rain," White said. "I also support Cabela's as a brand because of how they treat their employees."
Nathan Wilke brought his son Cody and his son's friend Ryan Wenzek, both 12, from Whidbey Island to the Tulalip Cabela's, where they found the diner so full that they were forced to eat their boar meat sandwiches in the clothing aisles.
"Cody's birthday wagon the 12th and mine was on the 16th, so we're both playing hooky as a late birthday present," Nathan Wilke laughed. "We plan to spend all day here. We'll hit every aisle except for ladies' wear. When you get off the island, you do everything at once."
"This is freaking impressive," said Tyler Schmidt, a 16-year-old from Arlington making his first visit to a Cabela's store. "When I die, this is where I want to go."