The NRA--and hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen the world over--lost a long-time friend this week as Dick Cabela, founder of Cabela's, Inc., passed away on Monday at the age of 77.
Dick, along with his wife Mary, founded Cabela's at their kitchen table in 1961, after Dick bought $45 worth of fishing flies with the intention of selling them at the family's furniture and hardware store in Chappell, Nebraska. When the flies didn't sell, Cabela ran an ad in a local newspaper. That didn't work out either. Finally, Cabela ran the following ad in Sports Afield magazine: "FREE Introductory offer! 5 popular Grade A hand-tied flies. Send 25c for postage and handling." That ad was the breakthrough; orders started flowing in, and Cabela's was born. With the business growing, Dick's brother Jim joined the company as a co-owner in 1963.
The company now has 50 retail stores across the U.S. and Canada, and last year had $3.6 billion in revenue. With strong gun sales, Cabela's became one of the country's top firearm retailers.
As reported by Forbes this week, in recent years, a good part of Cabela's revenue growth came from its gun business, and amid general fears that the Obama Administration would restrict future gun sales. Cabela's benefitted from the surge in gun sales with about one fifth of its $3.6 billion in revenue in 2013 coming from guns and ammunition sales.
As you might have guessed, Dick Cabela was an ardent supporter of the NRA. As the Forbes article notes, Cabela was a vocal supporter of the right to own a gun and both he and his company were important backers of NRA. In a video interview on Cabela's website conducted by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, Cabela explained his support for NRA: "These guys protect your right to own a gun, that's what it's all about. Some of those countries have no freedom, and a lot of that comes right down to their right to bear arms–I'll tell you that's where it sticks."
The NRA family mourns the passing of Dick Cabela: sportsman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, family man, friend. He will surely be missed.