December 3, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sometime in January, a new sign will go up on the outside of the Canfields building near 84th Street and West Center Road. It will signal that the final touch has been placed on remodeling the venerable sporting goods store.

“When we moved here from 24th and Cuming Streets in 1994,” says new owner Scott Marble, “it was basically a white box. For the recent remodeling, the first thing we did was to bring color into the store.”

He also brought back the popular “Tent City.” Displayed in the middle of the 48,000-square-foot space along with trees, animals, and fun for kids, it’s something of an outdoorsman’s paradise.

More importantly, rebranding also is underway.

“We are Omaha’s only locally owned outdoor store and wanted to bring that uniqueness into the logo,” Marble says. “A font was created for us that is rough around the edges, just like us.”

One of Marble’s most ambitious developments is the addition of home delivery and special orders to compete with online sales. “If customers want it delivered to their home, we do that. They get personal and fast service, and the purchase income stays in the community.”

“As an independent, locally owned store, 72 cents of every dollar stays in the community,” he says. “Only 42 cents stays in the community from purchases not made locally.”

Marble has also launched a new Canfield’s credit card that allows customers a zero-percent financing option along with a loyalty program.

A program for single mothers to take their children camping and fishing, with the help of a grant from the outdoor retailers’ organization Outdoor Nation, is a new and innovative community outreach program at Canfields.

“Ninety percent of kids are introduced to camping and fishing through their dads,” he explains. “Many may not have that opportunity,” he says of single-mom homes.

Canfield’s Sporting Goods store opened in 1946 with a focus on military surplus. When Marble began working there in 1993, customers were looking for inexpensive camping gear and fishing equipment. Merchandise selection has increased since he took over ownership of Canfield’s a year ago.

“We still carry products that made Canfield’s so popular with Omaha,” says Marble, “but the emphasis now is moderate to high-end fishing and camping equipment, premium work wear, kayaks, paddle boats, running, and yoga wear.”

Military items are still available at Canfield‘s as they have been for generations, but, with one change.

“For the first time,” Marble explains, “we are buying surplus from retired service people. The government has less surplus.”

Marble returned to Omaha from Seattle in April 2013 to become president of Canfield’s Inc., where he had worked until 2003. He bought the store from second-generation owner Rick Canfield as Canfield prepared to retire. Marble’s wife, Denise, and his three children, Elisha (19), Laura (17), and Alex (15), all work at the store.

“Studies show that when people take part in recreation,” he adds, “the quality of life is better. We can make that happen. When we make customer experience our main goal, then profitability comes along for the ride. Because we make good experiences for customers, we hope we will be in business the next 68 years.”

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