LAKEVILLE, Minn.— The bustling suburb on the outskirts of Minneapolis could be the site of a new beginning for Gander Outdoors. After a March, 2017 bankruptcy filing by then-Gander Mountain, a $390 million acquisition by Camping World, and months of speculation, Lakeville will be the proving ground of a rebrand for the once mighty fishing and hunting retailer.
The effects of Gander Mountain’s bankruptcy are still sending aftershocks through the fishing industry, most notably in the ensuing bankruptcy of Maurice Sporting Goods, and the $50 million in trade debt owed by the Northbrook, Ill. distributor. However, even as the industry awaits the fate of Maurice, the newly-coined Gander Outdoors looks to gain traction.
Company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission say that by April, 2017, Gander Outdoors expect to open between 55 and 60 new stores across the U.S.—some by rebranding some of the 162 former Gander Mountain locations, others via new dirt work. And those stores could shift their target audience away from hunting and fishing and towards outdoor recreation.
Citing an ill-advised, $100 million bet on the gun market as a primary cause for Gander Mountain’s fall, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis appears to be positioning Gander Outdoors as a direct competitor to outdoor recreation retailers like REI than shooting and fishing retailers like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Lemonis has stated that the new Gander Outdoor stores will place less emphasis on hunting and gun sales.
How the resurrection of Gander will affect the fishing industry remains to be seen, but as the first Gander Outdoors store prepares to open on the outskirts of Minneapolis, manufacturers and retailers won’t have to wait long to find out.