Gander Mountain’s new owner, Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, plans to rebrand the company into Gander Outdoors and resize the retailer with a more curated product offering and a smaller store footprint.
While details are thin, there has been talk of a reduced focus on firearms and increased emphasis on fishing. While Magid agrees with the focus away from firearms, a crowded and highly volatile market, we were surprised that Gander Outdoors hasn’t yet embraced one of the more logical opportunities: the car camping segment. Given Camping World’s strength in RV and related RV equipment, it is surprising this hasn’t been part of the revitalization plans so far.
If you look at the outdoor enthusiast you have three major segments: the hunter/fisherman (Bass Pro/Cabellas), the extreme camper (REI), and the car camper, which is lacking a tent pole retailer. At the moment, there is no ideal destination for the large and growing car camping segment.
Bass Pro Shops is nearly irrelevant in this category and their acquisition of Cabela’s only solidifies that point. REI tries to cater to this segment, but REI’s brand identity lies in the more extreme version of the outdoors in terms of backpacking, kayaking, etc. REI works great in the 20 to 30 year- old segment, but the reality is that a much larger segment of the outdoor enthusiast population has no desire to backpack but still wants to camp either via tent or RV.
Gander Outdoors can be the destination for this massively under-served population, filling the needs of an enthusiastic base with a highly-specialized shopping experience, and this new focus would be an excellent match to Camping World’s existing focus on RVs. This partnership would also allow the two retailers to challenge their big-box competitors.
The key to success for Gander Outdoors is keeping the focus specialized enough and avoiding the temptation to be everything to everyone. Customers know authenticity when they see it and will reward a brand dedicated to an activity they love.