At least 17, and perhaps as many as 70, of the 160 Gander Mountain stores will survive the retailer’s bankruptcy, at least for the short term. Camping World and a consortium of investment companies were the winning bidders in an auction held in late April, paying a reported $390 million for assets including Gander Mountain intellectual property, trademarks and inventory of Gander subsidiary Overton’s Inc., a boating and water sports retailer. The Camping World group reportedly won out over a bid from Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings.
Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis hopes to keep at least some of the Gander Mountain chain operating as a brick-and-mortar retailer. “As part of the auction I committed to taking 17 [stores], but my goal is to keep open as many stores as I possibly can that have a clear path to profitability,” he told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “In my opinion the company had a real estate and inventory problem, not a people problem.”
While it’s likely that at least half the existing Gander Mountain stores won’t survive, “There are a good number of stores, could be as many as 70, that if we get cooperation with the landlords and some other adjustments, there is a possibility” of keeping them open, Lemonis told the WSJ.
Tough Times For Sporting Goods Retail
Gander Mountain is only the latest retailer in the sporting goods/outdoor vertical to lose a struggle against declining foot traffic and competition from Amazon. Eastern Outfitters filed for Chapter 11 protection in February 2017. In July 2016, the disintegration of Sports Authority eventually led to the closing of all its retail stores and the sale of its intellectual property to rival Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Additionally, the “bankruptcy bug” has not been limited to a single vertical. The number of Chapter 11 filings so far in 2017 already has surpassed the entire calendar year of 2016, according to CNBC. Yet despite the spate of bad news, retail sales overall have been in positive territory. “Retail sector sales increased 2.6% in 2016 and 5.6% so far this year,” said IBISWorld Industry Analyst Madeline Hurley in an April 2017 Retail TouchPoints article. “The retail companies closing stores and going bankrupt have largely failed to adapt to the shift towards e-Commerce and away from malls.”
Camping World, which sells recreational vehicles and camping supplies at more than 100 stores, went public in fall 2016. The results of the auction must be approved by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge.