Cabela’s employees flock to Tonganoxie
The August opening of a Cabela's store has spawned a growth spurt in Tonganoxie.
Store associates estimate that as many as 18 employees who have transferred from other Cabela's stores have rented or purchased homes in Tonganoxie.
The hunting and fishing outfitters store, now in the final stages of construction, is located in the tourism district east of Kansas Speedway, 15 miles east of Tonganoxie. The store, which is preparing for a mid-August opening, will have more than 400 employees.
Chris Constant is one of the Cabela's Tonganoxie transplants. He said when he learned he was being transferred to Kansas from North Dakota, he and his wife, Sharon, never imagined they'd wind up in their ideal home.
"It's been a dream since I was a little kid to have a log cabin," Constant said.
Last week, the Constants happily settled into their dream home a 70-year-old log cabin a shady five-minute walk from the banks of the Leavenworth County State Fishing Lake.
For months before that, the log-cabin quest was an ongoing joke with their Realtor, he said.
"We started looking in February and we looked at over 150 homes before this popped up," Constant said.
On a recent morning, his Realtor called.
"'You can't believe what I found,' she said," Constant said. "She said she found me a log cabin."
Fellow Cabela employee Teresa Schnittger is a newcomer to Tonganoxie's North Star housing development.
Schnittger, who will be manager of the Cabela's women's and children's clothing department, said she's proud to call Tonganoxie her new hometown.
"We just came down in January and drove around the area and liked Tonganoxie," Schnittger said. "I was looking for a rental and I eventually wanted to buy. And I have two children and they're used to going to school in a small community."
for a rental and I eventually wanted to buy. And I have two children and they're used to going to school in a small community."
Her children, who this summer are staying in Minnesota, visited Tonganoxie.
"They really enjoyed it," Schnittger said. "They didn't want to go back, so that's a good sign."
Another happily relocated couple is Raymond and Jeanne DeWitt, who purchased an older home on Washington Street. Jeanne DeWitt was so impressed with Tonganoxie that she wrote a letter to The Mirror, describing her first impressions. Her letter accompanies this story.
Raymond DeWitt will manage "The Cave," a discount section at the new Cabela's store.
John Castillo, an assistant manager for the new Cabela's, is renting in Tonganoxie until he finds a house in the area to purchase.
Castillo said Tonganoxie is appealing to Cabela's employees.
"I think that's for a couple of reasons," Castillo said. "First of all it's very close to work, that's attractive.
"Also, we've just found it's a nice community. Many of us have come from smaller communities."
Schnittger, who has lived all her life in Minnesota, said part of Tonganoxie's charm is the people who live and work here.
She told of being welcomed to Tonganoxie by waiters and waitresses, and convenience store and grocery store clerks.
"I guess they've actually been nicer than I expected," Schnittger said. "I thought people were nice where I came from but I think the people here are friendlier than they are in Minnesota."