Bass Pro product is shipped in, while Cabela’s product is clearanced out never to return to the shelf. Major brands are drastically cut back, while subpar, cheaply made private brand items take their place (I understand that you have no control over this, but I just want to make sure you’re aware-I cannot even begin to tell you how many customers we’ve had to send away because we either don’t have the inventory, or have simply stopped carrying a certain product or brand). Many customers are brand loyal. People shopped at Cabela’s because of the quality of our product and the outstanding customer service we offered. “It’s in our nature” was more than just a slogan; it was a lifestyle. Now we hire warm bodies that have no knowledge whatsoever of the department they work in. The product we sell now is nothing more than cheaply made, bottom of the barrel trash with the Bass Pro Shops name stamped on the front. There were Cabela’s customers and there were Bass Pro customers. The majority of your true, loyal Cabela’s shoppers have and will continue to have a strong dislike and overall disdain for Bass Pro, now even more-so after the acquisition because Mr. Morris has destroyed something they loved. Cabela’s and Bass Pro are oil and water. They do not mix; they have not and they will not. Myself, along with many customers I’ve spoken to, will support local businesses and Mom and Pop shops going forward. This is a trend you will undoubtedly continue to see. I truly do not believe this store will last 3 more years unless drastic changes are made. Go back to the basics, the company’s roots. Praise outfitters on their selling, customer service and merchandising skills. When someone moves kayaks all day during the summer or builds gondos, acknowledge them in the morning meeting, thank them! They need to know their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank your employees for something other than Club performance. (I cannot stress this enough). You do sometimes, but the recognition for Club far outweighs any other praise given. You have so many employees that feel undervalued and under appreciated because the only time you commend them is when they sell a credit card. Their value is solely based on how hard they push a credit card. Everyone knows they have become just a number and any sense of individualism has been stripped from them. There is an “either you fall in line or you get out” corporate mentality that has taken over this building. The amount of toxicity amongst outfitters has gotten to a level that I don’t know is reversible. You have to find a way to change this immediately, but quite honestly, I don’t know how you can reconcile some of the relationships that have become severely strained over the past year. When I tell you your employees are unhappy, I’m not just talking about a few. The overwhelming majority are looking for a way out because they don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. You have to make it about the people again. Outfit the customer, take care of and lead your employees. Only then will things get better. There’s one other thing that I’d like to add onto this. After I was voted 2018 Outfitter of the Year by my peers, you said something to me a few days later that truly changed my opinion of you and of this company. You approached me, we spoke behind the reel bar, and you said “you know, I’m not gonna lie to you, it kinda irked me to announce that you won Outfitter of the Year and you only had 54 Club Cards.” That was a very upsetting thing to hear. To say that to someone that you know has worked hard for that title for over two years straight, someone that has done everything asked of him by this company; that was not only shocking, but it was just plain wrong. I’ve known for awhile that it was time for me to leave Cabela’s, but that truly sealed the deal for me. To essentially be told my worth as an employee is totally dependent upon Club performance was repulsive; especially considering all of the things I’ve done here.
I don’t think you realize just how much you are alienating and driving away customers by harassing them with your credit card. I cannot tell you how many people say they will never set foot back into a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop because they are attacked as soon as they walk in the door. It’s despicable. It’s disgusting and I was deeply ashamed to be apart of it for so long. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing to be having a conversation with a customer and see their whole demeanor change when you have to bring up the topic of applying for a credit card. “I’m sorry, sir. We’re forced to ask.” What else am I to say to them when I see they’re uncomfortable? We’re not allowed to just give great customer service to create repeat customers. What a way to make them excited to come back and build that trust and loyalty with them than by shoving a credit card down their throat, right? I’m sure there was a big bonus on the line for you this past March Madness, but if you take a step back and look at all the wasted resources and payroll; stemming from nothing more than your personal greed and your desire to have your ego stroked by your superiors, you should truly be ashamed of yourself, sir. The Club card was suppose to be about helping the customers that are loyal to us, the customers that live the outdoor lifestyle, but you (along with the entire company) have successfully made it a trap to any and to all foolish enough to sign on the dotted line. I realize there are benefits, but the card is not for everyone. In the right hands, it’s a valuable tool for us and for them, but we’ve gotten to the point that it’s forced onto everyone (Offsite customers don’t even know what they’re signing up for half of the time! We just lure them in with an abundance of free merchandise. Hook, line and sinker.) The way Club is handled overall is not only completely unethical, it’s a compliance risk. I’m not saying Cabela’s wasn’t guilty of this, but they’re has been a drastic change in how hard we’ve been made to push it.
Unfortunately, gone are the days when avid outdoorsmen would come to us to be outfitted for their next big trip. The Cabela’s of today is nothing more than an overpriced clothing and gift store with taxidermy that sells a few rifles and fishing poles. I believe that Mr. Cabela would truly be so very disappointed to see the rise and fall of his outdoor empire. I know you keep a magazine in your office of the .25 cent flies Mr. Cabela sold that got this company started back in 1961. Maybe a glance back through that magazine would open your eyes to show you just how far we’ve strayed from the path that once made us the World’s Foremost Outfitter.
In closing, I am walking out of here today with my head held high, knowing that I did the best I could for Cabela’s throughout my time here. Nevertheless, it is still a sad day for me to walk away from something that I once truly cherished. I will say this; this letter is not meant to provoke or antagonize you or anyone that you may employ. I simply want to share with you what I’ve seen and felt throughout my employment here and I hope by doing this you can make some much needed change in certain areas. I would like to thank you for the opportunities that have been given to me and I personally wish you the best of luck with Cabela’s and all of your future endeavors.
2018 Cabela’s Outfitter of the Year