Sign of times: Gander Mountain is going out of business

Gander Mountain by Corey Coyle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

The sign in the window tells a sad story for avid outdoor enthusiasts who like to spend money on their favorite sport or activity.

The story is simple enough; your local Gander Mountain store is soon to disappear just like the wild turkey you missed the other day — gone for good.

The window sign, indicating huge discounts on the way to an empty, very popular, retail outdoor sporting goods store, also answers questions and recent rumors that indeed, Gander Mountain was on its way out of business.


Indeed, its bankruptcy filing was the real deal, not fake news or self-inflicting rumor.

According to reliable news outlets specializing in outdoor happenings, the struggling company was purchased by Camping World just days ago, but the buyer is intent on a clean sweep so to speak, or nearly so.

One report says that the new owner was closing all 126 stores while another newsy guess declared that some of the top profiting stores would potentially re-open under the new name.

An unnamed manager type employed at a local Gander Mountain said that it is his impression that at least two Northeast Ohio stores would remain open. The real story is yet to be heard.

No doubt the Gander Mountain chain has a long list of fans who frequent the stores, wear Guide Series clothing, and cast lures on their signature rod and reel combos, but unless those fans spend freely and often, the bottom line is what it is and corporate owners count beans, not smiles.

Outdoor stores

But the Gander story is just part of the evident demise of at least some of all outdoor-oriented retail stores.

Perhaps it’s a question of just too many stores or maybe the obvious move by consumers to adopt the practice of online buying but things are changing.

It appears to this writer that younger adults are leaning more and more to hiking, camping, birding, kayaking, for their outdoor activities forgoing many of the activities the Boomers enjoy.

And that kind of swing affects the bottom line when it comes to buying.

Now the rest of the story

The on again, off again, deal by Bass Pro to purchase Cabela’s seems to have finally been sealed after Cabela’s dropped the price a whopping half billion.

Once complete, it’s anyone’s guess about what will happen, if anything, to the many Cabela’s stores, the branding of both chains and several other maybe’s.

Guessing game

Some thinkers, or more likely guessers, have Bass Pro closing the smaller Cabela’s stores and keeping the large “destination” stores open.

Other guessers have branding flips, name changes, combo stores, and everything imaginable.

What we do know is these two are the retail and internet giants in what has grown to national, make that world-wide proportions.

But there are others and lots of them. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I suggest that fish and game trophies that have been lent for display to any of the stores that are closing should be reclaimed as soon as possible.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.


  1. Did the business get undermined by other groups of people who don’t like the type people who like the outdoors?
    Just like there’s international economic controls and a real battle of which company survives, there’s there domestic battles in American society where some do things to undermine certain companies and businesses.
    Which most who enjoy the outdoors are usually more pleasurable.
    Which there’s others who hate other type people who enjoy the outdoors and they’ll intrude and do all kinds of things to destroy good businesses.


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