[UPDATED] Will the Newly Built Cedar Rapids Gander Mountain Ever Open?
It's been one of the strangest weeks ever for a retail chain. There are so many questions right now concerning Gander Mountain.
Let's start at the beginning. In February, word began to spread that a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for the hunting and fishing chain was imminent.
In March, the filing became official along with the announcement that some stores would be closing, according to Mlive.
Monday (5/1), Camping World Holdings broke the news that they had won the bidding battle and were taking over Gander Mountain. In a statement released that day, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis was quoted this way:
While we are obligated to assume a minimum of seventeen leases, our designation rights will allow us to operate stores and retain employees at a number to maximize profitability."
Then Friday (5/5), the Gander Mountain website posted a huge banner that reads, in part, "After 57 years! All 126 Locations Nationwide Going Out of Business. Total Liquidation Savings! Gift Cards Accepted Until 5/18"
Obviously, the statement from Lemonis and the Gander Mountain website don't match. Lemonis spent a good part Friday and Saturday disputing claims that all the stores were closing. He's been sending tons of tweets on Twitter, and even posted a video explaining his intent to keep at least 70 stores open.
Monday (5/8) afternoon, Lemonis posted an updated list of all the stores that will remain open.
Tuesday, Lemonis added three more to the list, making the number 65.
The only two current Gander Mountain locations in Iowa are in Davenport and southwest Cedar Rapids, according to the Gander Mountain website. The Cedar Rapids store was to close this spring, to be replaced by the newly built store off of Blairs Ferry Road. Right now things don't look good for that store, for two reasons. #1 is this tweet from this morning:
Here is Lemonis' response:
Thursday (5/11) morning, came a more promising exchange of tweets:
So what's happening at that new Cedar Rapids store? It appeared finished on the outside at least two months ago. I went and took a look Saturday (5/6) night. This is what it looked like inside:
It's pretty clear, not much is going on inside. There's literally nothing there. No equipment, no shelving, no product, nothing. Granted, Gander Mountain has been embroiled in bankruptcy for the past three months but is this new Cedar Rapids building in the plans? Right now, it appears the answer is up in the air. Clearly, the answer is we need a better lease deal. However, can a new development afford to give a huge price cut? These are questions that will be answered soon. Let's hope the uncertainty turns into the building opening as a Gander Mountain. Otherwise, a brand new building might never see its intended tenant. That might not be a first, but it would certainly be a rarity and it could be devastating to this new commercial development along one of Cedar Rapids' busiest streets.