Extreme bow-hunter Ray Howell prepares to shoot the red ribbon at the grand opening of Gander Mountain in Wichita in 2005. Just 12 years later, it is still unclear whether the store will remain open. (Sept. 9, 2005) The Wichita Eagle File photo
Extreme bow-hunter Ray Howell prepares to shoot the red ribbon at the grand opening of Gander Mountain in Wichita in 2005. Just 12 years later, it is still unclear whether the store will remain open. (Sept. 9, 2005) The Wichita Eagle File photo

Retail

Gander Mountain may not close Wichita store after all, new owner says

By Oliver Morrison

omorrison@wichitaeagle.com

May 07, 2017 02:10 PM

Reports on Friday emerged that Gander Mountain was closing all of its stores across the country, but its new owner has taken to the internet to correct the record: About 85 to 90 of its 160 stores will likely close.

A manager at the Wichita location, who didn’t want to be identified, said he had not heard yet whether Wichita will be a store that is closing.

“It’s online and they haven’t really said anything yet,” he said.

Gander Mountain’s new owner, Marcus Lemonis of Camping World, said during a Periscope video there is some possibility more stores can remain open if they can renegotiate their leases.

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“I have continued to post individual updates on what stores are staying and what stores are going and I will continue to do that, so you will have to read through my stream to find that,” Lemonis said. “I know this way of communicating is a bit unorthodox, but I continue to see news reports from news organizations in cities where Gander Mountains exist that all stores are closing, and they are not.”

Retailers, such as Gander Mountain, have suffered in recent years as more customers have shifted to online shopping. The company filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March and was later bought by Camping World.

Lemonis said the problem with Gander Mountain’s previous management was they didn’t manage inventory efficiently. So Lemonis didn’t purchase any of the merchandise in the stores, including the stores that will remain open.

“At the end of the day, this company failed because it made some giant inventory mistakes,” Lemonis said. “It just bought too much, not the wrong stuff, just too much, and it didn’t necessarily understand how to operate in a low-cost environment.”

A liquidator has purchased the products inside the stores, and that merchandise will be sold at every location, he said. Then Gander Mountain’s new owners will buy new merchandise.

On Twitter, Lemonis gave advice to customers such as: “I would use your gift cards up asap. Like now.”

Lemonis’ Twitter account indicated he still didn’t know which of its stores, including the store in Tulsa, would remain open. He said he would keep open only the stores that can show a clear road to profitability.

Lemonis said he appreciated the concern of Gander Mountain’s employees and encouraged them to help the liquidator sell its current merchandise.

Gander Mountain’s Wichita store is near the river at 605 S. Wichita St., just north of Kellogg on the Arkansas River.

Oliver Morrison: 316-268-6499, @ORMorrison

Marcus Lemonis’ message on Periscope

So as most of you know Gander Mountain filed bankruptcy not too long ago and over the last 10 days myself along with the Camping World team, we bought the intellectual property, the brand, the assets, Overton.com and Gander.com and all the rights to all the leases. What we did not buy is the inventory that is in all of the stores. The distribution center and a liquidator, a group of liquidators bought all that. Through this process the liquidators have the right to sell all of the inventory and all the employees in the stores need to be helpful in making sure they are able to recover their money. But over the last several days I’ve been posting the number of locations that are going to stay open. Even after the inventory is liquidated we will buy new inventory. Today we control all 160 leases but is my estimation that we are going to probably have around 70 maybe 75 stores, if rent gets a little better maybe more than that. I have continued to post individual updates on what stores are staying and what stores are going and I will continue to do that so you will have to read through my stream to find that. I know this way of communicating is a bit orthodox but I continue to see news reports from news organizations in cities where Gander Mountains exist that all stores are closing and they are not. All stores are liquidating and the inventory in there is going to go away but the stores aren’t closing. My goal is open at least 70, remain and keep them operating as Gander Mountain, potentially add a small camping world or Overton to them and run them and run a good business. And it’s up to the local staff, the manager, to run that store profitably. I will not be picking stores that do not have a clear path to profitability. I will not do that under any circumstances. Additionally we acquired the assets of Overton, Overton.com and we will be closing on that in the next I think 10 or 15 days, and Overton.com and GanderMoutain.com will operate out of Greenville, North Carolina. There are currently two Overton stores, one in Greenville and one in Raleigh, those will both continue to operate and my goal is to open up 10 or 15 more Overtons across the country in markets where we think it makes sense inside of a Camping World store or at least connected to a Camping World store. But what I am learning this week is the heart and soul of this company really resides in the people who work in these stores and the people who are very concerned what is happening and I hear you and I am doing the best I can to keep things moving. In addition the base camp, the headquarters in St. Paul, I am working with the landlords to try to get something worked out where we can keep the offices in downtown St. Paul that is my goal but again if it’s not profitable then it doesn’t make sense, then we are not going to be able to keep it in that specific building. There are a lot of good folks in St. Paul, a lot of good folks in Lebanon in the distribution center and at the end of the day this company failed because it made some giant inventory mistakes. It just bought too much, not the wrong stuff, just too much and it didn’t necessarily understand how to operate in a low cost environment. So our goal is to see the business survive and thrive. And to take care of all the people who work there. If you are watching this video and you know somebody who works for Gander Mountain or are a customer or know a customer, please re-tweet this so people can get the information one time. I’ll try to do this every couple of days in addition to the tweets, thanks very much and have a great Sunday.