Sportsman’s Warehouse opens tenth California store

Sportsman's Warehouse CEO John Schaefer says Gander Mountain's liquidation has impacted the company's bottom line. He said 2017 sales would fall short of last year, as expected. (Photo: Sportsman's Warehouse)

The outdoor retailer will open its tenth California location Thursday in Visalia, California. (Photo: Sportsman’s Warehouse/Facebook)

Sportsman’s Warehouse will open its 10th retail store in California this week as the company works toward a goal of 300 locations nationwide.

“California is a great state we know well with a high user base for hunting, camping and fishing,” said John Schaefer, Sportsman’s Warehouse CEO, in a press release Monday. “This tenth California location solidifies Sportsman’s Warehouse as an outdoor leader in California. The addition of this store keeps with our business plan, promoting stable growth that will benefit our loyal customers, our company and our vendors for many years to come.”

The newest store opens Thursday in Visalia, located in central California’s San Joaquin Valley, about 190 miles north of Los Angeles. The first 200 families inside will receive a $20 gift card and attendees can register to win one of four $500 store gift cards. Special guests include Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler, the Visalia Police Department and chamber of commerce representatives Gail Zurek and Jon Bueno.

Sportsman’s Warehouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2009, calling itself a “retailer victim of the worldwide global recession.” In the eight years since, the company reorganized and grew from just under two dozen locations to more than 80 stores in 22 states — mostly in the western and southeastern regions of the country. Schaefer said 12 locations will open by year’s end and another five to nine are slated for 2018.

The company’s growth stands as an outlier in an outdoor retail industry plagued with mergers, bankruptcies and sluggish sales. Schaefer said while fellow competitors watched profit margins shrink during Gander Mountain’s months-long liquidation, the Utah-based chain resisted discounting firearms to match the gun industry’s promotion-heavy environment festering post-election.

“We are in the use category strongly, not in the protection category,” he said. “And to cut prices on firearms to try to stimulate artificial growth in a period of time that both is not a high-purchase time of year — and is just before a high-purchase time of year in the September, October timeframe with hunting — simply doesn’t make sense. People don’t want to buy, they’re not going to buy.”

The company reported second quarter earnings just 1 percent over 2016 — a  weakness Schaefer said he expects will last through 2018.