There”s a magical place right off U.S. 23. A place where people of all shapes and sizes come together for a common cause. A place where you can forget your troubles and get lost in a world of fun. A world of imagination of nature. A special place where to be honest I never thought I would ever end up. Yet, something about this place seems to be calling my name in the night. Beckoning me to get off the exit and turn left. And so this past weekend, my cronie and I decided to give in to temptation and join the rest of the crowd. Oh yes, we went to Cabella”s: The World”s Foremost Outfitter.

Paul Wong
One Turntable and a Microphone<br><br>Rebecca Isenberg

If you know what I”m talking about when I mention this store you”re part of a lucky crowd. You”ll feel right at home when I speak of hunting, fishing, taxidermy. But most likely, you”re like most of us who have no idea what this phenomenon is. This Disneyland of hunting supplies.

This massive store that seemed as big as a city to my friend and I as we looked upon the entrance with wide eyes. We were like kids in a candy store. But instead of lollipops and gummi bears we were greeted to stuffed moose, gazelles, and an aquarium filled with real live fish. This is an outdoorsman store. This is for the man”s man. A store for people who love to wear camouflage or fly fish or stuff the deer that they shoot for fun on their weekend outings. I am the opposite of this kind of person. I don”t do the outdoors. I”m a city girl. I like the mall. And when I say mall I don”t mean the mall of fly fishing and deer hunting.

But somehow, this place has taken over my life. Why? you may ask. Why would I feel the need to go to this store, and why would my friend go with me? Well, the answer is: Once you go Cabella”s, you never go back. When Stephanie and I went there last Sunday it wasn”t my first time. I had been there before with my father, who decided that we needed to “check this place out” on our way from New York to Ann Arbor in August. He dragged me into the store, unwilling. But once I was inside I too became obsessed with the merchandise. My father, who also is not a hunter or anything of the sort, pretended to be interested some sort of bird calling paraphernalia. I made sure the other hunters saw my embarrassed looks, however I really wanted to jump of for joy at the mere sight of that there fishing rod. Or did I?

At the start of the semester I met this guy who starting claiming Cabella”s. When I heard the magical words I quickly exclaimed, “Hey I know that place.” The kid, who we”ll call Eric, wasn”t kidding about loving this store though. He went there for real reasons. Not to just check it out. “Was that possible?” I thought to myself. As the phenomenon of outdoors man outfitters began to infiltrate into my every day vernacular I soon realized that I needed to go back. So that”s why I made Stephanie come with me to uncover what is really going on with this place.

And uncover it we did.

Steph and I were out of place to say the least. We creeped into the parking lot and spent around 15 minutes finding a spot. We circled the massive lot and admired the huge bear statue in front of the entrance. Where did all these people come from? What were they doing here? We pondered these questions as we got out of the car and stumbled into the wide world of nature. The two of us stuck out like Phishheads at a Backstreet Boys concert. We asked an older couple to take our picture in front of the stuffed deer. They looked at us with eyes of bewilderment. Stephanie tried on fly fishing gear and camouflage jackets. Yet, all around us we realized that no one else was kidding in this place. They were all there for good reasons. To get supplies, to become outfitted. It is the world”s foremost outfitter, ya know.

Not that I”m knocking outdoor sports. I just have never seen anything like this place. I never really thought that somewhere like this existed and that there was such a big market for the merchandise. There were probably double the amount of people there than are at the Briarwood mall on any given Sunday. But what”s weird about Cabella”s is that it”s not a clothing store. It”s a hunting supply store. This is a store strictly devoted to the sport of killing animals. Kids run amok in a store filled with shot up game and bait. Call me crazy but this just seems wrong.

What I realized on my second visit to Cabella”s is that this store is probably normal to most people. I bet you”re reading this right now and getting mad at me for mocking this fine establishment. But I”m not hating on this place. I love it. It has helped me learn about a whole other part of American culture that I never learned about growing up in suburban New York City. The closest I came to taxidermy was a beanie baby. But now I love this place. Yes, it makes me a little nervous. But it”s a phenomenon unlike anything I”ve ever experienced. So like the song says … “give me a home, where the buffalo roam.” And there you have it.

Rebecca Isenberg can be reached via e-mail at risenber@umich.edu.

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