Sportman’s Warehouse eyed up Gander Mountain stores before losing out in auction

A top executive for Sportsman’s Warehouse said last week the company long held interest in a select few Gander Mountain stores, but was ultimately outbid by Camping World in last month’s auction.

Gander Mountain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in Minnesota court on March 10, indicating its intention to shutter 32 stores in 11 states and liquidate more than $500 million worth of assets.

Camping World, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle dealer, paid $38 million for Gander Mountain’s intellectual property and store leases in a bankruptcy auction April 28. New CEO Marcus Lemonis said he will keep about 70 of Gander Mountain’s 162 stores open as the company reorganizes and liquidates existing inventory.

“We made a bid for these assets and inventory as part of the bankruptcy auction,” Sportsman’s Warehouse CEO John Schaeffer told analysts Thursday. “However, when the price of those assets exceeded the price we were willing to pay for the assets, we chose not to continue with the auction process.”

The decision comes two months after Schaeffer told analysts Gander Mountain’s bankruptcy filing could be “a huge opportunity” to grow the company’s locations in hopes of meeting its 300 stores’ nationwide goal.

“We’ve always said we’re probably never going to go with the Northeast and the Midwest is probably one of the last places we’ll go,” he said during a March phone call with analysts. “If you look at the Midwest you’ll see that Cabela’s and Bass are already in the major markets of Minneapolis and Milwaukee and Chicago and Indianapolis and Cleveland and Columbus and Pittsburgh. But there are an awful lot of small communities that you know you can only do $5 million or $8 million and that’s our bread and butter.”

He continued, “There are places like Wausau, Wisconsin with 50,000 people that has access to the entire Northern Wisconsin area that has a Gander there and if should that go away that’s just one example of a huge opportunity for us.”

As of May 11, Lemonis told Twitter followers seven Gander Mountains would stay open in Wisconsin, though he cautions the list isn’t final.