GREENFIELD — Greenfield’s Gander Mountain is among 32 stores to fall victim to a bankruptcy filing by the national hunting and sporting chain’s parent company.
Gander Mountain Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late Friday in federal court in Minnesota, where the company’s headquarters is based. The filing allows Gander Mountain as a whole to remain in business while reorganizing in an attempt to pay its creditors, according to the federal bankruptcy code.
That reorganization will include putting the company up for sale and closing 32 under-performing stores, including the 45,600-square-foot store at 2175 Barrett Drive in Greenfield that was expected to serve as a cornerstone of development in the Greenfield Business Park on the city’s north side when it opened in 2014.
The stores in Greenfield and Merriville are the only Indiana locations going out of business; locations in the Indianapolis area, including Castleton, Avon and Greenwood, will remain open.
The retailer has other Indiana stores in Lafayette, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne and Evansville.
The company has not provided details about when the listed locations will close.
Customers wandering around the Greenfield location Monday said they weren’t surprised Gander Mountain was having financial issues. The chain’s prices tend to run high, making competitors’ offers more attractive, they say.
“To be honest, I’d rather go to Cabela’s,” said Greenfield resident Jeremy Hewson, commenting that he visits Gander Mountain only because it’s near his home.
Now that the Greenfield shop is closing, he’ll just make the drive to Hamilton County to visit another store, he said. For gun supplies, he’ll rely on local retailers, he added.
Gander Mountain is the nation’s largest outdoor retail company with 162 stores in 26 states and employs more than 7,000 people nationwide.
The company, which sells hunting, camping and fishing gear and has marketed itself as “America’s Firearms Supercenter” because of its extensive firearms and ammunition offerings, announced plans to build in Greenfield in 2013 and opened the store a year later. At the time, the company expected to employ 90 people locally, officials said.
Gander Mountain’s leaders are in talks with other parties interested in buying the company and are soliciting bids ahead of an auction that is expected to take place in late April, according to a press release. The company expects to submit the winning bid to the judge overseeing its bankruptcy case for approval in early May and anticipates closing on the sale by May 15, the release states.
Gander Mountain’s leaders are blaming increased competition with online retailers for the company’s financial woes. The company has in recent years “experienced challenging traffic patterns” as its vendors began shipping merchandise straight to customers rather than relying on storefronts to conduct business, the release states.
Hancock Economic Development Corporation director Skip Kuker said Gander Mountain had hoped to attract customers from across the Midwest when it first opened its doors. But nationally recognized chains are having a tough time finding their footing in the internet age, Kuker said.
“It’s just easier to do business online, which changes bricks-and-mortar stores,” he said. “It’s disappointing for us, it’s disappointing for the employees, but it’s just how retail entities are these days.”
Gander Mountain president Jay Tibbets penned a letter to customers, which was posted on the company’s website over the weekend, urging them to continue utilizing Gander Mountain as the business weathers the bankruptcy storm.