Some of you know the sporting goods store Gander Mountain is going out of business. I was one of those people sad to see Gander Mountain shutting down. It was an option for those of us into the outdoors, for things we really needed. Before we went to Yellowstone, we obtained some of our outerwear and footwear from Gander Mountain. After all, they were the only nearby sporting goods store in South Texas that carried cold-weather gear.
Which in part led to their downfall. All the stores apparently had the same gear — cold weather clothing. A store in Duluth MN had the same gear as a store in Houston, TX. It doesn’t take a genius to realize a place that has a for-real winter like the North Central US isn’t like the Southern US where there are only two months of sub-50 degree weather.
Then Gander Mountain revealed itself for … itself.
In February, one of my co-workers mentioned Gander Mountain was filing for bankruptcy. I was not totally surprised by this, since the store was almost always empty except for the gun counter. I was surprised by Gander Mountain’s sales tactics. I purchased a firearm from Gander Mountain AFTER they announced they were “restructuring.” I had even spoken to the salesperson who sold me the firearm about the so-called restructuring. They were closing almost all of their stores in Texas. The salesperson wanted to sell me a service plan. Now why would you need a service plan from a store that’s going out of business? Then this guy says to me, a “3-year service plan is only a little more than a 1-year service plan.” I’m like, ok buddy, I see you’re in this for yourself. So am I. I notice the service plan offers 3 free cleanings, but doesn’t have a time limit on it. So after I buy the thing, I fire it at the range. I run about 200 rounds through it, and immediately take it back to Gander Mountain for cleaning and servicing. Then I bring my other firearm that my wife had bought me, over to Gander Mountain for cleaning and servicing. The same salesperson is like starting to make excuses, like they have a lot of guns in for cleaning. I’m like ok, I can wait. Now, Gander Mountain won’t take firearms for cleaning or service; a fact my wife found out for herself when she called them to ask about it.
Another one of their less scrupulous sales tactics is marking stuff down in an area without actually putting it in their systems. Because they have no scanners in the store, you won’t know the Gander Mountain price without going to the cashier. I had already thought about writing this, but going over there today put me over the top. I wanted to buy some shoes — they actually have some good deals on shoes IF you can find your size and what you want. So they have a sign saying 40% off trail and hiking shoes. I asked the cashier to scan the shoes and it came out to 30% off. I brought back the 40% sign and asked for the discount. She didn’t even bother arguing; she just marked it off 40%. It was only $6, but that’s seemingly part of their strategy. If it isn’t a whole lot of money, people will just give up and pay more. I wouldn’t say this is a strategy if I didn’t have some evidence. Last week, I purchased a pull over — imagine, buying a pull over in San Antonio Texas in June — for 50% off. Except it only came out to 40% off. The cashier said it was a mistake; they just marked it down and they hadn’t had time to put it into the system. Ok, the difference between the prices was supposedly small enough that the cashier told me to go find something else to make up the difference. I was wandering around the store trying to find something in Gander Mountain for $8.00. Almost everything at that price was sold out.
Which gets me to another point. Gander Mountain was and is expensive. Expensive meaning, I could find whatever clothing they sold at Academy for about half to 2/3rds of the price. When Gander Mountain announced they were selling off their merchandise, I immediately went to see what they did to their pricing. Gander Mountain ditched all the sales they had advertised, brought their pricing back up, then gave you 20-50% off. In other words, the merchandise sell off was getting prices to the Academy level. Naturally San Antonians were suckered into the place and ransacked it looking for non-existent cheap stuff.
One item I really wanted were Coleman flashlights. I wasn’t going to buy any until the price went down. Gander Mountain was selling these flashlights for $19, then to $17. On their website, they were selling them for $10! They dropped the price to $15, then they went away. I assume they sent them to another store because no one was buying them.
I’ve now seen where Camping World’s CEO has purchased the Gander Mountain name, and claims he will re-open up to 70 of the old stores. Interesting since Camping World isn’t cheap, either. What Camping World has going for it is the niche market of RVers who know Wal-Mart doesn’t have everything an RVer needs readily available. The CEO mentioned Gander Mountain had purchased too much merchandise, which is true. The store here in San Antonio is going to be open until August, so they are shipping other stuff in from other Gander Mountains. In the meantime, I hope they do a better job than the previous corporation. They pretty much sent a store with a good reputation into the toilet.