Wait, there’s yet another sporting goods store potentially headed for bankruptcy? There are reports that Gander Mountain, an outdoorsy chain that calls itself “America’s firearms superstore” is headed for bankruptcy.
The news was originally reported by Reuters, with the information credited to those ever-helpful “people familiar with the matter.” Officially, the company isn’t saying anything about its future, but the sources said that the bankruptcy filing could come as soon as later this month.
A spokesman told local paper the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the company has taken a “vow of silence” on the subject.
Gander Mountain has spent the ’10s expanding across the country, opening 60 stores in the last five years, with new stores opening their doors as recently as 2016. That meant taking on debt: the company took out a $30 million loan and has $525 million in revolving credit lines. That doesn’t mean that it is necessarily using that whole amount, but that’s how much debt the chain could have.
Why is Gander Mountain doing so poorly? FBI background checks for gun sales were at a record high in 2016, Reuters reports, which should be good conditions for a chain that sells them. Yet sporting goods and outdoors stores as a whole aren’t doing so well lately: Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy and liquidated hundreds of stores last year, and the owner of Eastern Mountain Sports has filed for bankruptcy twice in the last year. Even L.L. Bean is considering tightening up its famously open return policy.
Gander Mountain is also the third wheel of American sports superstores: It’s been sitting on the sidelines while its main competitors, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, have pledged to spend their futures together in the form of a $5.5 billion merger. While their merger hasn’t yet met regulatory approval, having its two main superstore rivals united would leave Gander Mountain in a weaker position to compete.
The Star-Tribune points out that the retailer has a 15% off all merchandise sale on its website, which is an unusual promotion.