Gander Mountain plans soft opening for end of March

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Gander Mountain plans soft opening for end of March

The Springfield Gander Mountain store is nearly ready to open.

Outdoors equipment retailer Gander Mountain will let its central Illinois fans go inside its new store in less than a month.

The retailer’s new Springfield store in Prairie Crossing is expected to open March 27.

Company spokesman David Ewald said Friday Gander Mountain plans a “soft opening” on that date and a grand opening to start April 3.

The St. Paul, Minn.-based company broke ground for the 57,000-square-foot store in July and started hiring in January. Ewald said he didn’t know exactly how many people would work at the Springfield store.

The store, which is about the same size as the nearby Ashley Furniture Home Store, will carry a full line of upscale hunting, fishing, marine and outdoor equipment and offers gunsmith services.

The company hoped to open the Springfield location last year, but several factors, including the national economy, slowed development, Ewald said.

He said the local outlet will be Gander Mountain’s only store opening in 2009. It will be the fifth store in Illinois, joining others in Rockford, Peoria, Joliet and Geneva. It is the company’s 116th full-size store.

The company, which was founded in 1960 as a catalog retailer, has locations in 23 states.

Gander Mountain stores carry a broad assortment of competitively priced outdoor equipment, technical and casual apparel and footwear, outdoor accessories, and expert services, including gunsmith, archery, ATV and marine services.

Nearly all of its stores have a Gander Mountain Lodge, an in-store meeting room where it offers hunter and firearms safety classes and outdoor-skills seminars.

The Springfield Gander Mountain is on Chuck Wagon Drive just north of the Meijer supercenter in Prairie Crossing. Its newest neighbor is a Homeway Homes new-model center that opened earlier in February.

Gander Mountain apparently won’t have the outdoor market in that area to itself for long.

The Scheels outdoor and sporting goods chain is set to break ground this spring for a two-story, 203,000-square-foot superstore at the south end of the MacArthur Boulevard extension. If the project remains on schedule, Scheels will open next year.

Scheels is a 23-store operation based in Fargo, N.D.

The Springfield superstore is scheduled to have about 300 employees, a 65-foot, operating Ferris wheel, shooting galleries and a 16,000-gallon aquarium.

Chris Dettro can be reached at 788-1510.

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