cabelas-004by Chrysa Smith

OK. Here I am. A born and bred NYC girl. Worked in Manhattan. Only played gentile sports like tennis. Well, I did run track and play kick ball when I was young but that didn’t last long into adolescence. As long as I can remember, I’ve liked nice clothes, feminine things, decorating, cooking, writing. My friend Carol and I shopped at Saks like people shop at the local grocery store; ie., frequently. You know–the whole nine yards that go along with the feminine spirit. I match my shoes to my bags or my outfits, I always wear makeup when leaving the house and of course, the proper jewelry to complete the outfit. Ok, enough about me.

I tell you this not to bore you, but to set the scene. So there I am this past Saturday, smack in the center of Cabela’s. If you know it, you’re laughing. If you don’t, let me explain. It’s an outdoor store that caters to the Tim Taylor in men. Fishing, hunting, camping—that’s what it’s all about. I’m about as at home in Cabela’s as a lobster on the prairie.  Polar opposites. But that’s exactly why, when I head to Pottsville, PA (a town right out of the coal mining region) for a book event each November, I stop there. Not only does it give me a kick to explore a store like I’d explore some sort of unfamiliar museum, I can honestly say, after yesterday’s stopover. it’s worth a visit.

Now Cabela’s is a nationwide chain. Mostly, they’re located in outdoorsy regions; places where camouflage outfits, coyote urine and cross bows sell like Starbucks in NY. But it’s so much more than accessories for the man’s man. There’s a certain resemblance to the Museum of Natural History (Ok, again, that’s in NY). Large, life-like elk, bear and other wildlife pose in natural-looking habitats, amongst streams where fish swim happily along. On one side, there really is an aquarium, with all sorts of sea creatures floating by, some with whiskers, others with translucent scales. Alongside the rubber waders and ice fishing gear is the woman’s section. Yes, the woman’s section.

In year’s past, when I stopped in, there was what you expected—fleece and sweats—maybe a wooly mammoth jacket just for chuckles. But fashion, it wasn’t. Sorry to my rural sisters. But it wasn’t anything I was wearing out to dinner on Friday night. Not even to the grocery store on Monday morning. But this time, I was stopped by an employee hocking Cabela credit card deals. She ran down a listing of benefits and I told her that I don’t usually buy anything there. And that’s when she made me laugh. “Oh there’s lots of items that will tempt you,” she said. Hah! Maybe some long johns for my ice fishing trips. Possibly a moose call for all of my hunting escapades. But let’s get real. What does Cabela’s hold for me?

Turns out, a number of things. More than the manly woman, Cabela’s seems like they’re now catering to the casual woman. If you’re familiar with two of my favorite shopping sites: Title Nine and Athleta, you know what I’m talking about. Nice sporty skirts and dresses that you can feel as comfortable wearing out to the grocery store as well as to a casual dinner. I caught site of a tunic. Amethyst with a faint black speck, it tied just below the waist, a hood at the top. Adorable. Yep, I bought it. Next, a blue hooded dress with gray swirls–just above the knee—so cute. A rust colored button-down dress with a cowl collar and large buttons—so unique.

So now, I’m thinking again–watch out. I might be tempted to take the trek to Cabela’s more than once a year.Besides the fashion, I might catch a bite of flounder or bison or some other woodland creature at their in-house restaurant I could watch some sea life, check out the newest in hunting gear and fishing tackle and even  buy some ‘Duck Dynasty’ milk chocolate bars at the check out stand.  What better to do on a Saturday afternoon? (besides catch a Broadway matinee?)

To find a Cabela’s near you, check out: