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Gander Outdoors in Howland to close

Parent company shifting toward RV sales / service

HOWLAND — Outdoor, hunting and camping retailer Camping World Holdings Inc. is closing its Gander Outdoors store at the Eastwood Mall as the company repositions its strategy toward recreational vehicle sales, service, parts and accessories.

The Illinois-based company announced the shift in September and that it was in the early stages of talks to either sell, repurpose, relocate or close 27 of 37 locations that do not sell or service RVs, but rather its assortment of outdoor lifestyle products.

“We believe the sale and / or servicing of recreational vehicles is our core and most important offering and, with the RV and outdoor consumer crossover, we believe there is an opportunity to continue growing our market share and improve our financial performance through the operation of locations with RV sales and / or service and, when feasible, our hunting, fishing and camping products,” said Marcus A. Lemonis, Camping World Inc.’s chairman and CEO.

A sign outside the Niles’ store informs shoppers of the closing, but does not state when. An email was sent to a spokesman with Camping World Holdings Inc. for clarification.

Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for mall complex owner / operator Cafaro Co., said Gander Outdoors’ lease expires at the end of March, but the company has been silent on its intentions.

“That’s what we’re hearing,” Bell said of the store closing. “But we haven’t officially heard from them; that’s the weird thing.”

Wary of the store’s fate since Lemonis’ Camping World Inc. bought Gander Mountain Co.’s assets from bankruptcy in May 2017 due, in part, to updates of the chain store’s fate on Lemonis’ Twitter account, Bell said Cafaro officials had been in contact “with other sporting goods concerns about taking that space, and we’re hopeful that comes through.”

Gander Mountain, which came to the area in 1999, doubled the size of the store in 2015, resulting in a 61,320-square-foot-plus space.

Camping World Holdings operates 165 locations that sell and / or service RVs and has acquired more than 30 RV dealerships since January 2018. At some of the 37 locations without RV sales or service, the company is attempting to acquire “developmental consents, approvals and permits” needed for RV sales or service, according to the company.

Dan Morgan, zoning administrator for Howland, said World Camping Holdings asked in September about RVs at the mall store.

“We just never received an application requesting approval or denial,” Morgan said.