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Published: Tuesday, 3/4/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

SPRINGFIELD TWP.

Gander Mountain refocusing approach

Retailer to resume selling outdoor gear

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

After a little less than a year as a guns-only specialty store, Gander Mountain is again changing the focus of its store in Springfield Township.

The St. Paul, Minn., retailer announced Tuesday it had remodeled the store and would resume selling camping, fishing, and other outdoor products alongside firearms.

Last April, the 31,000-square-foot store at Springfield Commons was one of the first of the chain’s stores to be converted into a firearms super store. Similar conversions were done at stores in suburban Columbus and Grand Rapids, Mich.

Steve Uline, Gander Mountain Co. Inc.’s executive vice president of marketing, said Tuesday the company had a total of six firearms superstores. Gander Mountain also tested six “flex” stores, which dedicated more space to guns and shooting accessories, but rotated other outdoor products in and out based on seasonal demand.

“Both models way overproduced to our old model,” he said. “They were both successes.”

However, the flex stores were more successful, and will serve as the primary model for the retailer’s future.

“What it comes down to is we’re doing a better job of having the merchandise available for the consumer for the season,” he said. “Firearms and ammunition are 12 months a year and other categories are not.”

The company is keeping its firearms-only concept at a Wisconsin store and a Minnesota store, but the others, including the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, location, will be remodeled like Toledo’s store.

Gander Mountain says the store will continue to offer a large selection of guns and ammunition, but its stock of related accessories might be reduced.

The company is private and doesn’t release sales figures, but officials said business is growing.

“If you just look across in totality all of us in the hunt, fish, camp space, we’re all in expansion mode,” Mr. Uline said. “I would say we’re all doing well. The Toledo store did very well when we changed it, but really all of our stores are doing well.”

Gander Mountain is having a grand opening event this weekend for the new store. Several professional fishermen, two stars from the History Channel’s Swamp People show, and others will be on hand.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.



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