Gander Mountain to close all its stores

 

JANESVILLE—Gander Mountain is closing all its stores nationwide, including its Janesville location, the company announced Friday.

In a message on Gander Mountain's website, the hunting, fishing and outdoor apparel and product retailer announced Friday that it is closing all of its 126 store locations nationwide and liquidating all its merchandise at its locations.

Gander Mountain in March had filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to court filings, and had been working since March to restructure the company, with the plan to continue to remain as an outdoor goods retailer, the company said on its website.

The St. Paul, Minn., company, including its subsidiary, Overton's, was acquired this month by Camping World, an RV, camping and outdoor supply retailer, Gander Mountain said on its website.

Employees at the Janesville Gander Mountain location at the Pine Tree Plaza shopping center, 2900 Deerfield Drive, declined to comment Friday. A local manager at the store said store workers weren't authorized to comment on the company closing.

The store is one of the major anchors at Pine Tree Plaza.

On the store's front windows and inside the Janesville store on Friday, signs hung announcing the store was going out of business, and the store had items marked with lowered prices.

Among the mark-downs The Gazette spotted in the store Friday: 10 percent off on a wobbling wild turkey decoy; 10 percent off fishing lures and equipment; 20 percent off camping chairs and shoes.    

Along Deerfield Drive, Gander Mountain had employees hoisting tall signs advertising the store's going out of business sale.

Janesville resident Mike Sauerzopf was walking out of the Janesville Gander Mountain with a few containers of panfish jigs that he'd bought at the store.

Sauerzopf said his son had called him Friday afternoon with the news Janesville's store was closing. He said his son had seen men along Deerfield Drive holding big signs that advertised the going out of business sale.

He seemed shocked to hear that the company was closing all its stores.

"Oh, man. That's terrible," Sauerzopf said. "You really don't have anything nearby that compares to this store for all the camping and hunting stuff."

He shook his head. 

"What's the next closest store like it. I think maybe Cabella's in Sun Prairie," Sauerzopf said.

Gander Mountain said on its website that it hopes to continue to be a part of the outdoor community but that the company is being subsumed by Camping World. Gander Mountain's website did not indicate whether any of its existing stores, Janesville's included, would continue to operate under a new company name.

The Gazette could not immediately reach a Gander Mountain spokesperson on Friday evening for further comment on the company's plans.

Gander Mountain's website only says that amid its future under Camping World, it's "excited for the future and the infinite possibilities ahead of us to serve the outdoor community! Check back in Fall 2017 for more details!"

Rock County has seen a steady climb in retail sales in the past several fiscal quarters, but some segments of the national retail sector, including sporting goods, have been hit by a shift in consumer spending to online.

Gander Mountain was initially founded in 1960 in Wilmot, Wisconsin, as a mail-order outdoor product retailer.

Prior to its bankruptcy earlier this year and a wave of initial closures planned, Gander Mountain was considered the nation's biggest chain of specialty outdoor merchandise.

Elkhorn resident Chris Ehlen said he always appreciated the Janesville Gander Mountain store because it was the closest outdoor sporting goods store of its kind and size nearby. He said he'd much rather drive to a brick-and-mortar store "and get what I want right away" than to wait for items ordered online to come in the mail.

Ehlen looked at the bag of sweatshirts he'd just bought in Gander Mountain.

"I'm a little bit bummed," Ehlen said. "It's gonna be pretty sad to see a good store go."

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