The Gander Mountain store in Jacksonville’s River City Marketplace will most likely close, but the St. Augustine store will remain open, according to the chain’s new owner.
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, star of CNBC’s “The Profit” and investor in Jacksonville’s Sweet Pete’s candy store, also said that he plans to dramatically change the outdoor stores.
Lemonis bought the assets - primarily its name and leases - to the outdoor chain several weeks ago, after it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But he did not buy the inventory, which is being liquidated by another group. The River City store will probably close when the liquidation is done, he said.
He simply won’t reopen it. The liquidating company has not said when that sale will end, only that gift cards will be accepted through Thursday.
Last week, Lemonis posted a list of stores, including Jacksonville, that many understood as the stores he was planning to keep open. But Monday, the said that the rent in River City Marketplace is “Just not affordable.”
The sales at the Jacksonville store, he said, run about 20 percent lower than the St. Augustine store, which is on Prime Outlets Boulevard, just off Interstate 95. Both stores opened in 2007.
“I only want one in the market and the St. Augustine store is adjacent to Camping World,” he said. “So I get a double bang.”
He had recently said that he thought Gander Mountain had expanded too much and cannibilized its own customer base.
Though Lemonis bought the leases to the stores, he said he has the right to accept or reject any of them. He’ll re-sign and extend the St. Augustine lease, he said, but a reduced rate.
“It will be way, way, way down,” he said.
He said that employees at the Jacksonville store will be offered positions at the Gander Mountain in St. Augustine and Camping World, which has locations in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
“Even Sweet Pete’s for that matter,” he said.
He did say he didn’t know how many employees the store had or if there were enough open positions for all of them.
Lemonis said he plans to keep at least 70 of the 160 Gander Mountain stores, but that significant changes would come.
“Guns are 47 percent of their business,” he said, “and we plan to grow that but to add other things to make it more appealing. We’ll be expanding all the active sports. Marine, hiking, camping, kayaking.”
In a conference call two weeks ago, Lemonis said he thought Gander Mountain had doomed itself by putting too much emphasis on guns. Gun sales had grown dramatically during President Obama’s administration with fears that he would limit access. They’ve plummeted since President Trump’s election.
But Lemonis said he won’t be getting into team sports or golf.
“We’re not a sporting goods store,” he said.
Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296