Gander Mountain became the latest retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announcing Friday it would close dozens of stores and seek protection from its creditors.
 
In the next several weeks, the St. Paul-based retailer of firearms and outdoors supplies said it would begin to shut down 32 of its underperforming stores. Gander Mountain is currently the nation’s largest outdoor retailer with 162 locations across 26 states.
 
“Despite aggressive actions to improve efficiency of the company’s retail operations and support functions, the underlying financial impact from underperforming stores and unproductive, excess inventory hampered efforts to create a sustainable path forward,” the company wrote in a statement.
 
Its Minnesota store closings will include its Mankato, Rogers and Woodbury locations. The company will also shut down certain stores in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Whether Gander Mountain intends to move or heavily discount the inventory from its closing branches remains unclear.
 
According to its bankruptcy filing, Gander Mountain owes a significant sum to gun manufacturers — Sigarms ($2.8 million), Remington ($2.6 million), Smith & Wesson ($1.2 million) and Benelli ($1.2 million) — as well as apparel brands like 5.11 ($1.5 million), Under Armour ($1.1 million), Carhartt ($856,000) and Red Wing Shoes ($820,000).
 
However, Gander Mountain claimed it racked up the largest bill with Vista Outdoor Sales ($15.2 million), a Farmington, Utah-based owner of 50 outdoor product brands.
 
Gander Mountain reportedly began the steps toward filing for bankruptcy last month, around the same point it started discounting much of its inventory online and in stores.
 
The 57-year-old retailer has filed for bankruptcy once before in 1996 when it was a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ. The company returned as a private company that same year, this time with new owners: David Pratt and the Erickson family, who together also own the Holiday gas station chain.
 
Gander Mountain’s most recent financial trouble is reportedly due to the fallout of an ambitious expansion phase where it opened about 55 stores in four years. All the while, the company struggled to retain and attract new customers.
 
“Like many retailers, Gander Mountain experienced challenging traffic patterns and shifts in consumer demand resulting from increased direct-to-consumer sales by key vendors and accelerated growth of e-commerce,” the company said.
 
Its bankruptcy won’t affect employee benefits and retirement accounts, Gander Mountain noted, as it pursues “active discussions” with potential buyers of the company. Gander Mountain expects to solicit bids before holding an auction in late April.
 
By early May, the company said it will report who it plans to sell to with hopes of closing the sale by May 15.

Like what you just read? To receive business news directly in your inbox each Tuesday and Thursday, sign up for our free e-newsletter, Briefcase, and be sure to join the conversation by commenting below.