Gander Mountain is filing for bankruptcy, closing Hixson store

Gander Mountain is filing for bankruptcy, closing Hixson store

March 10th, 2017 by Dave Flessner in Breaking News

In this July 2014 staff file photo, the Gander Mountain store off Highway 153 is shown before its grand opening in September 2014.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Gander Mountain Co., will close its Hixson sporting goods store within the next month as part of a bankruptcy reorganization of the financially troubled retailer.

The St. Paul, Minn.,-based sporting goods retailer announced Friday that it is filing for bankruptcy, closing 32 of its 162 stores and putting its operations up for sale.

Gander Mountain opened a 50,000-square-foot store in the Oak Park Town Center in Hixson in 2014, but the sporting goods retailer has faced mounting competition from online sales and other, bigger retailers targeting hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities in the market, including Bass Pro Shops in East Ridge, Cabela's in Fort Oglethorpe, Academy Sports in Hixson and Sportsman's Warehouse in East Brainerd.

"With much regret, we will be closing our Chattanooga store, among 32 we'll be winding down in the coming weeks," the company said in a statement Friday. "The decision to close these stores was not an easy one and was made only after an extensive strategic review of our options."

The typical Gander Mountain store employs 20 to 30 full time people and another 20 to 30 on a part-time and seasonal basis. The retailer will continue normal operations and pay while it restructures its debt and finances under the protection of the bankruptcy court.

The bankruptcy filing by Gander Mountain on Friday came just two days after electronics retailer Radio Shack also filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to close 187 of its 1,943 stores.

Another sporting goods retailer, Sports Authority, declared bankruptcy and closed 300 stores last year. Last fall, Bass Pro Shops also agreed to buy Cabela's for $5.5 billion to help consolidate two of the rival retailers.

Gander Mountain said it filed its Chapter 11 reorganization petition in federal bankruptcy court in Minnesota after losing sales to online merchants and manufacturers using e-commerce to bypass brick-and-mortar retailers.

"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 in a statement about its bankruptcy filing. "Despite aggressive actions to improve the efficiency of the company's retail operations and support functions, the underlying financial impact from under-performing stores and unproductive, excess inventory hampered efforts to create a sustainable path forward."

Gander Mountain said it is in active discussions with a number of parties interested in buying the retail chain as on ongoing business. The company said it expects to submit the winning bid to the bankruptcy court for approval in early May and anticipates a closing of the sale by May 15.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.


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