Few, if any, businesses today survive the kitchen-table dreams of their founders, especially in the outdoor industry where businesses come and go with the changing seasons. Yet, the leader in the outdoor equipment business has done just that - survived, grown and prospered from simple beginnings to become the largest mail-order, retail and Internet outdoor outfitter in the world.
Cabela's, the World's Foremost Outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, was born somewhat inadvertently in 1961 when Dick Cabela came up with a plan to sell fishing flies he purchased while at a furniture show in Chicago. Upon returning home to Chappell, Nebraska, Dick ran a classified ad in the Casper, Wyoming, newspaper reading: "12 hand-tied flies for $1." It generated one response.
Undaunted, Dick formulated a new plan, rewriting the ad to read "FREE Introductory offer! 5 hand tied Flies....25c Postage....Handling" and placing it in national outdoor magazines. It didn't take long for the orders to begin arriving from sportsmen and women around the country.
In typical direct-mail style, each order was mailed out with a mimeographed catalog of outdoor items Dick and his wife, Mary, added to their product line. In the beginning, Dick and Mary ran the business from the kitchen table of their home in Chappell.