In the weeks following the bankruptcy auction, Lemonis changed the company’s name to Gander Outdoors, crowd-sourced a new logo and maintained an evolving list of surviving locations — down to 57 from a planned 70 — on his Twitter account. Meanwhile, the revised company announced a slew of new product offerings designed to deliver on Lemonis’s promise to offer a larger assortment of guns at better prices.
“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.”
Gander Mountain, the brainchild of Robert Sturgis, an avid outdoorsman from rural Wisconsin, began in 1960 as a mail-order catalog for other shooting sports enthusiasts. After a 1968 federal law prohibited catalog sales of firearms, Sturgis grew the business to include camping and fishing gear.
Over the years, Gander moved headquarters to Minnesota and, by 2012, had branded itself as “America’s Firearms Superstore,” embarking on an aggressive expansion campaign to open 60 new locations across the country — a move Lemonis said ultimately led to the company’s downfall.
“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.”