|Gander Mountain promoting the opening of its Snellville store in late 2015|
Gander Mountain, the St. Paul, Minnesota based outdoors retailer, announced yesterday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and plans to close 32 of its 162 stores. News of the privately held retailer's financial struggles first surfaced in mid February when industry observers first speculated a bankruptcy filing was near.
"Like many retailers, Gander Mountain experienced challenging traffic patterns and shifts in consumer demand resulting from increased direct-to-customer sales by key vendors and accelerated growth of e-commerce," the company said. "Despite aggressive actions to improve the efficiency of the company's retail operations and support functions, the underlying financial impact from underperforming stores and unproductive, excess inventory hampered efforts to create a sustainable path forward."
Gander Mountain competes in a crowded and competitive retail segment that also includes Dick's Sporting Goods, Field & Stream, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's, as well as online retailers. (Bass Pro Shops agreed to pay $5.5 billion to purchase Cabela's this past fall, but as of last month, the deal was not complete and was in serious jeopardy but "salvageable" according to a recent BloombergGadfly article.
In Georgia, Gander Mountain will close half of their six stores.
The newest Atlanta area Gander Mountain just opened during the fall of 2015, and is one of the stores slated for closure. The store co-anchors the new Snellville Exchange shopping center on Scenic Highway just north of The Shoppes Webb Gin. The other anchors at Snellville Exchange include an Ovation Cinema Grill and Hobby Lobby. La-Z-Boy and Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q have opened in two of the center's five outparcels, with the remaining three likely now more difficult to lease in the wake of Gander Mountain's closure.
Gander Mountain also plans to close its store in McDonough which opened in the spring of 2014, and its store in Augusta which opened in the fall of 2014. Gander Mountain's Newnan store which also opened during the fall of 2014, is expected to stay open as are stores in Albany and Valdosta.
Alabama will see four store closures: Gadsden, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.
Texas is the hardest hit market with ten closures planned. In Texas, Gander Mountain plans to close its stores in Houston, Killeen, Laredo, Lubbock, Round Rock, San Antonio, Sugar Land, Texarkana, Waco and West Houston.
Many of the stores Gander Mountain plans to close are quite new with many featured in time-lapse photos in these galleries.
Store employees with whom I spoke indicated that current plans call for affected stores to close by May 15th. The same employees indicated that there will be limited sales on in-stock merchandise with most merchandise being sent to stores remaining open.
Gander Mountain stores average 52,000 square feet, making them large, likely hard to fill boxes in a contracting retail landscape.
The news of Gander Mountain's planned closures comes on the heels of similar announcements from retailers such as JCPenney, Staples, Macy's, Sears, Kmart and hhgregg.
Sports Authority, another sporting goods retailer, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, but ended up liquidating, closing all of its approximately 450 stores nationwide, including eleven in Georgia. Former Sports Authority stores in Sandy Springs and Cumberland are expected to reopen as Dick's Sporting Goods locations, while others in Tucker, Buckhead and elsewhere remain vacant.
Are you surprised Gander Mountain is closing so many recently opened stores? What would you like to open in place of the three Gander Mountain stores slated for closure locally? Where do you shop for sporting goods?
Please share your thoughts below