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Many Gander Mountain stores likely to close after bankruptcy sale

News Tribune file photo

Many of Gander Mountain's 160 stores appear destined for closing, and the guns, camping gear and other inventory in the stores will be liquidated, under a plan filed in bankruptcy court.

Camping World Holdings Inc., which operates a network of stores catering to recreational vehicle owners, said this week that it has won a bankruptcy auction of Gander Mountain's assets.

The deal requires Camping World to assume the leases on just 17 Gander Mountain stores, and gives it the right to assign others.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis as saying that at least half of the existing Gander Mountain stores won't survive. There were no immediate details on which stores would be affected; the chain has a location in Hermantown.

St. Paul-based Gander Mountain started in southern Wisconsin in 1960 as a catalog retailer. The firm went through bankruptcy in the 1980s and in 1996, and filed again for in March, seeking protection from creditors while it reorganized its financial affairs.

The company has had fierce competition from rivals such as Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's.

In an announcement Monday, Camping World said it had bid nearly $38 million for the assets of Gander Mountain and its boating business, Overton's Inc.

A group of liquidators, meanwhile, won the rights to sell off the inventory in Gander Mountain's stores.

The winning auction bids are subject to approval by the bankruptcy court in Minnesota, which will hold a hearing on the sale today.

In his statement, Lemonis said the deal would allow Camping World to "refine the inventory selection" at the Gander Mountain locations and "select only those stores which are profitable or we believe have a clear path to profitability." Camping World will be able to offer its products and services at the remaining Gander Mountain locations.