Less than half of the sporting goods chain’s 162 locations will reopen later this year as Gander Outdoors, the re-branded effort led by Camping World CEO and star of “The Profit” Marcus Lemonis.
Gander Mountain, the brainchild of Robert Sturgis, an avid outdoorsman from rural Wisconsin, began in 1960 as a mail-order catalog for other shooting sport enthusiasts. After a 1968 federal law prohibited catalog sales of firearms, Sturgis grew the business to include camping and fishing gear.
“I spent a day talking to a number of store managers and customers who have said that the current most recent management at Gander got really away from its core customer and really bet a $100 million on guns and was wrong,” he told investors in May.”Terrible, terrible inventory, terrible overhead, and candidly they didn’t need 160 stores.”
Camping World, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle dealer, led the investor group that bought out $390 million worth of Gander Mountain assets, including its Overtons boating business, during an April 28 auction for $38 million.
“Well, we are going to have a selection of handguns and shotguns that we believe serve the need of the market and have margins that are commensurate with our expectations,” he told investors in May. “But I would expect that in those stores, we’re going to see an expansion of fishing, potentially getting back into the live bait business and really digging into what the consumer wanted.”