Cabela’s Inc. will open its first two stores in the Denver market this month, joining its closest competitor, Sports Authority, along with smaller-format Gander Mountain and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Denver is the first metropolitan region in the country to have stores from each of these leading sporting goods retailers.  The two new Cabela’s soon will be joined by another two Bass Pro Shops. Adding to the competitive mix are nearby Walmart’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and a dozen small local independents.

At 110,000 and 90,000 sq. ft., both new Cabela’s stores fit in the company’s new “next generation” format.  Stores opened previously are up to two or three times larger, but it was found that in addition to lower development costs, the smaller stores are about 60% more profitable per square foot. The smaller format allows the retailer to be more flexible with product selection. The product mix can change to be based more on regional needs. Compared with its largest competitors, Cabela’s has significantly larger catalog and online sales. There is an advantage in knowing where its customers are and what types of products they buy. Inventory at store locations can be tailored based on online buying habits. According to Chain Store Guide, 33.5% of Cabela’s fiscal 2012 sales came from internet and catalog sales.

Chain Store Guide’s database of Apparel Specialty Stores includes detailed information for the companies mentioned above along with 675 sporting goods retailers that specialize in hunting, fishing and camping equipment. These companies operate 6,600 stores and generate over $31 billion in industry sales. The top 25 sporting goods companies generate 91% of the total industry’s revenue. The big fish are getting bigger and the pond is filling up.