It looks like Bass Pro is coming to Buffalo after all.
The hunting and fishing retailer just bought out competing chain Cabela’s. That makes it the owner of an 88,000-square-foot store on Walden Avenue that opened two years ago.
The store was built without tax breaks or incentives of any kind, and opened its doors far ahead of schedule.
It was a far cry from the saga Western New Yorkers witnessed with Bass Pro.
That tangled tale spanned nine years and nearly ended with politicians giving the retailers $35 million to do us the favor of locating on what is now Buffalo’s vibrant and bustling Canalside.
Missouri-based Bass Pro finally backed out in 2010, which many credit as the catalyst for the rebirth of Buffalo’s waterfront.
But now, after all these years, Bass Pro is finally, technically doing business in the Buffalo market.
The grand opening of the Cheektowaga store drew more than 1,500 people – one of the biggest the Nebraska-based company had ever seen. Cabela’s said it knew from online and catalog sales that it had a strong following here.
Added traffic from Canadian shoppers helped seal the deal, prompting the company to open its location near the Walden Galleria. That store has a used gun room, a “mountain” covered in taxidermied animals, an archery range and a giant tank filled with live, local fish.
Bass Pro has agreed to buy Cabela’s for $65.50 per share – a deal valued at $5.5 billion. As part of the deal, Cabela’s will sell its credit card operations to Capital One Financial Corp.
The store has been struggling, reporting only one quarter of same-store sales growth over the past three years. It has also been hit hard by sluggish apparel and footwear sales.
Cabela’s has about 80 stores, mostly in the Northwest. Bass Pro has about 100 stores, mostly in the Northeast, with the closest in Auburn.