Monday, March 9, 2009

What recession?

The coin toss on Saturday favored Cabela's Dundee, Michigan store over Cabela's Wheeling, West Virginia complex.

That would involved an hour shorter drive but a far more boring one, seeing as how the Ohio Turnpike hardly cuts a swath through scenic country.

Still, it was the destination that mattered as I had a couple of Cabela's gift certificates that have been burning a hole in my wallet since Christmas.

And my oldest brother, Terry, and mutual friend Wayne Rodriguez wanted to visit Dundee anyway.

That's because there's more Lake Erie trolling stuff there than at the Wheeling store. Both Terry and Wayne are crazy about trolling for Lake Erie walleye.

However, the West Virginia store is more attractive with better displays and exhibits. I'm more of an inland style of fisherman.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked.

Fact was when we pulled into the Dundee store parking lot around 11 a.m. there hardly could be found a place to settle in the car.

The store was crowded on the order of Christmas. Lines of people snaked through the front end with carts full of merchandise for hunting, fishing and boating.

And this was Michigan which has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation.

And though a lot of folk were in a buying mood a lot of others were simply window shopping, picking one or two smaller items here and there along with taking photographs of family members with the wildlife mountain as the backdrop.

Fact is, there's a whole lot of pent-up demand from people to shop for outdoors products.

Maybe the most surreal of all was the traffic in the firearms department.

Ammunition of all kinds was flying of the shelves, and customers had to take a number in order to inspect the handguns, rifles and shotguns for sale. That's because so many people wanted to look and possibly buy.

Not lost either was that the gun room (which features very high-end firearms) was crowded with shoppers as were the racks of used firearms.

The fishing lure rows were crammed with customers also. And I had to wheel the cart around a lot of bodies as I tried to find my favorite drop-shot items, lightweight pencil sinkers and such.

Cabela's was promoting the sale of various moderately priced fishing reels and rods.
They were seeing more attention than were the really outlandishly expensive models that only a NBA player can afford.

The bottom line is that people are willing to spend on their outdoor pursuits, so long as they can receive in exchange a value for their hard-earned dollar.

Gone likely are the days of buying to keep ahead of Bubba on the bass boat. Instead, we're getting a much more savvy customer who wants and demands real value.

If nothing else, this current recession is molding a better consumer.

This has nothing to do with Cabela's or buying stuff but rather on a neat activity.

My wife, Bev, and I operate a backyard sugar bush. What it is is a barrel of fun though not a little bit of work.

First off there is the collecting of the sap; which requires a 45-minute drive to a farm in Ashtabula County where we've tapped five sugar maple trees.

On Friday I filled two five-gallon buckets with sap and returned home.

On Saturday, Bev boiled them down along with eight gallons collected from our silver maple tree to yield not quite two quarts of syrup, some of which went into containers that will be given away to people who let me hunt and fish on their property.

This weekend you can learn about installing your own home sugar bush. It is part of Lake Metroparks' Sugaring Weekend at the agency's Farmpark in Kirtland.

There's a lot of hands-on, family style activities. In times like these, those kinds of low cost activities are worth every penny.

It should be fun.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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