Laham: Opening of Cabelas in Wichita is a game-changer

Tuesday, March 20 2012 12:00 AM

Laham: Opening of Cabela’s in Wichita is a game-changer

By John Stearns

In the Wichita Business Journal 

The turnout for Cabela’s grand opening in Wichita on Wednesday could have filled 10,500-seat Koch Arena — and then some.

In fact, by some estimates, it could have filled most of 15,000-seat Intrust Bank Arena.

Not only does this town have Shocker fever, it has Cabela’s fever (and also Chick-fil-A fever, which began sweeping east Wichita with Thursday’s 6 a.m. grand opening).

“We were incredibly blown away at the turnout,” says Cabela’s spokesman Wes Remmer. “It goes to show why we chose that location.”

That location is K-96 at Greenwich Road, in the Regency Lakes Shopping Center, which also is home to Target, World Market and others.

“Cabela’s will change the landscape of 21st and Greenwich Road,” says George Laham, president of Laham Development, which is a partner in developing Regency Lakes.

“It’s wonderful for the other businesses in the area and will be a continued generator of growth for new development in the area,” Laham says.

Revenue from Cabela’s will help finance an $8 million on-ramp and off-ramp project that will create more complete access to Greenwich Road from K-96, which is important to continue the development of that part of town, he says.

“This is economic development.”

Talks began with Cabela’s more than five years ago, Laham says, who is quick to credit Brad Saville, president and CEO of Landmark Commercial Real Estate Inc., as being instrumental in landing Cabela’s.

“We do work hard (and) listen to our customers and what stores and restaurants they want in Wichita,” Laham said. “So we were very pleased by the turnout yesterday. Wichita has wanted Cabela’s for a lot of years, and now we have one.”

Laham notes the Wichita store is Cabela’s 35th.

“That says a lot about retail in our community,” being one of only 35 stores, he says. “Any city in America would love to have a Cabela’s.”

Apparently, such turnouts at Cabela’s grand openings are the norm.

“Cabela’s grand openings are always a spectacle,” Remmer says. A turnout like that is not a huge surprise, “but it’s always nice when the crowds come. Generally, we like to create a buzz like that.”

The company knew it had a lot of local followers, based on tracking catalog and online customers, “but then to actually see it come to fruition is great,” Remmer says.

Next up for Cabela’s, a new store in Tulalip, Wash., about 30 miles north of Seattle. That will open April 19. 

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