Financial services and liquidation firms Tiger Capital Group and Great American Group have been chosen to assist outdoor specialty retailer Gander Mountain in the closure of 32 under-performing stores nationwide, the firms said Thursday. The court approved liquidation sales while the retailer pursues a going-concern sale of its remaining assets, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Brands offered during the liquidation include Under Armour, Yeti, The North Face, Coleman, GoPro, Shimano, Columbia, Guide Series, GSX, Carhartt, Merrell, Keen, New Balance, Reebok and Rocky, to name a few. Categories include shooting sports, hunting, fishing, camping, marine, apparel, footwear and outdoor lifestyle. Furniture, fixtures and equipment will also be on sale as part of the liquidation event.
Closures include stores in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. A full list of store closures is on Tiger Group’s website. “For outdoor enthusiasts, these 32 store-closing sales represent an extraordinary opportunity to find an amazing array of brand-name merchandise at significant discounts," Tiger Capital Group COO Michael McGrail said in a statement.
Fierce competition in sporting goods retail and in some cases debt loads are catching up to retailers that may have overextended themselves or failed to keep up with evolving trends and changing customer demands. Gander Mountain succumbed to those challenges on March 10 when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Gander, however, is hardly the only one in trouble. Sports Authority, once the largest sporting goods chain in the U.S., was hobbled by mounting debt, weak e-commerce returns and failures to meet increasing challenges in the space, and ultimately filed for bankruptcy and liquidated last year. Dick’s Sporting Goods meanwhile was able to snap up its intellectual property and many of its stores.
Eastern Outfitters, which includes discount retailer Bob's Stores and outdoor retailer Eastern Mountain Sports, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month; that retailer is owned by private equity firm Versa Capital Management. Versa last year took over those units from Vestis Retail Group, which previously shuttered regional sports retailer Sport Chalet. (Versa also recently closed all remaining Wet Seal stores amid that teen apparel chain's second bankruptcy in about two years.) Meanwhile, Cabela’s, which like Gander is a major gun and ammunition seller, continues to struggle as it awaits the final word from the Federal Trade Commission regarding its proposed acquisition by privately held rival Bass Pro Shops.
Many of these retailers are offering the same brands and merchandise mix as each other, forcing them to compete on price. And gun sales in particular, which have mostly fallen in recent years, have been a drag on retailers, like Gander and Cabela’s, that are dependent on them. "Gander Mountain is well-known for carrying today's most sought-after brands," Scott Carpenter, President of its retail solutions division. "Many of these brands are rarely, if ever, discounted, so shoppers will want to come in early to take advantage of these sales while selection lasts."
REI, though, is successfully swimming against the tide, thanks to a loyal, largely membership-based following, a highly curated merchandise mix that includes many products not found everywhere else and an emphasis on customer experience in stores and out. Its award-winning Black Friday #OptOut campaign for the past two holiday seasons has fostered its emphasis on experience and helped REI garner loads of attention despite shuttering its retail operations that day.