December 22, 2017
Just as Cinderella pointed out to me back in junior high, sometimes you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. This is how I assume many people feel after a locally beloved business/institution closes. The place that we are now losing here in Omaha is Canfield’s. When I was a kid I seem to recall it was somewhere downtown. Dad took us there a few times before we went up to Canada to fish one summer. We got some fishing supplies and several ponchos. I was fascinated by the military surplus supplies, which evoked the excitement of my little plastic army men, but scaled up to grown-up size. Before going up to the great northwest to work in the salmon industry I stopped in to purchase a surplus of supplies, including a synthetic fill sleeping bag and a big army stuff sack to fill with my many camping and cooking supplies. I had to accept help from a passerby in Seattle to get the thing hoisted up onto my shoulders to walk down to the bus stop to get to the processing boat. I still have many of those supplies, including a hand ax that I have never used to chop anything. Climbing shoes, work boots, work pants, an R2D2 fishing rod for Snot Jr. I wasn’t there a lot, but it was nice to know that they were always there when I needed them. Usually when I was leaving town.
The last time I was there I glanced around and realized they’d cut down on their floorspace. The work clothes and army surplus supplies seemed to have been nearly, if not completely, absent. There was a bicycle department. Quite a few full-suspension Yetis (are there any other kinds?) and a few road bikes, mostly Specialized, I think. Not really my thing. It seemed to have lost most of its uniqueness. I could get everything they had at other, bigger shops with more to choose from. They did automatically price match my work boots, which cut the price by $50 - now what kind of way to do business is that!? Well, the big chain shops have been here in town for quite a while. Cabela’s/Bass Pro, Duluth Trading Co., and Scheel’s were just down the street. Not to mention Campmor and Backcountry reaching their ghostly hand into the pockets of outdoor supply purchasers. Their corner on the market had become a small corner of the market and, apparently, become too small to be profitable.
So thanks for the memories and for sparking my imagination and wanderlust. As a friend of mine once said about living in Omaha - it’s kind of an intellectually inclined place because there’s nothing else to do here so people sit around and read a lot. It was also nice to wander around Canfield’s and picture yourself out adventuring someplace else with mountains, lakes, and/or rivers.
So if you need a few more Christmas gifts, you might want to stop by Canfield’s for some nostalgia and/or great deals on outdoor supplies (including full-suspension Yetis and Specialized road bikes).