Where to Buy Your Gear

If you read my get the basics gear guide you are going to need to know where to purchase your shit but one of the biggest problems with buying hunting gear is getting service. Asking questions of staff in a store is damn near impossible and then, if you do manage to get a question off, the chances of whatever staff member knowing the answer is slim to none. There are not a lot choices of where you can buy your gear, which doesn't help things. There are a few small independents around the city where you can get your firearms, if they happen to carry the guns you want in their (usually small) selection, but they don't generally have the other gear you need.

So where do you go? Here is a quick look at the options.

Wholesale Sports is first up. It is the smallest of the big 4 and yet somehow, once you get past the generally friendly greeters the rest of the staff doesn't know you're in there. I've been actively ignored in every department from guns & ammo to clothing, footwear and accessories. There is only one guy in there that is helpful at all and that is a very small middle-aged guy that seems to understand that retailers make money by helping out their customers, but he is the only one that is remotely useful. They almost never have sizes smaller than XL available at the store and even though they are Canadian, they take the American approach to performance gear and can't educate patrons on proper fit, which is to say that if you are 5'11" and 180lbs you don't need a 2XL. Online they aren't much better, plagued with bad website layout and poor descriptions of product. It's not an easy place to shop.

So how about Bass Pro Shops? They are a little bit better... sometimes. But at least with the size of their store there is simply more available. So if you're going to get terrible service you might as well get it where you can find the majority of what you need. Every once in a while there are some really nice young girls in the clothing and camo area that do try to help despite an obvious lack of training and knowledge, so good on those individual staff members for trying to help. I also recently inquired about ordering a gun from them as I got a lot of BP gift cards for my 30th birthday. It took over a week for them to get back to me with a "yes we can order it" and then after me replying, "yes I want to spend this money in your store what do you need from me to get the ball rolling?" I haven't heard from them since. Online it's not a good situation: they don't have a Canadian site and shipping guns, ammo, optics and knives across the border is difficult to impossible, but they won't tell you what they can or cannot ship to you until after you've ordered it. Great, thanks guys.

Then there is the 2 shops that are out of town: Cabela's and Grouse River. Cabela's actually has a Canadian online presence but are plagued by the same problems as Wholesale Sports' website, easily fixable but somehow they don't want to put in the effort and it's the direct result of IT and programmers trying to pretend they're designers.

Grouse River is based in Kelowna so I figured I'd go into their brick and mortar location while touring wine country. The in store service was just as bad as any of the others and somehow this was more disappointing than in the other 3 stores. Up to that visit I had ordered online from Grouse River for a few things and their online service team was outstanding; great with follow-up and general communication, easy returns and exchanges and a simple easy to use site.

Bottom line, if you are comfortable doing all your shopping online, and want the higher end tech gear, because that is all they carry, go with Grouse River. Otherwise shop for convenience and price because that is all the other stores offer, and know what you want before you go because you won't get any help.