Struggling brick-and-mortar chains have few options these days—unless they happen to sell hunting, fishing or other outdoor goods. In that case, Marcus Lemonis may just come calling.
Crain’s Business Chicago reported that Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, a national chain of RV dealerships headquartered in Lincolnshire, Ill., and Good Sam, an RV travel club under the same holding company, has been snapping up outdoor recreation retailers at a rapid clip.
This month, he purchased Erehwon Mountain Outfitters, an Arlington Heights, Ill.-based chain of four outdoor gear stores; in October, he bought Uncle Dan’s, a Chicago outdoor gear company that also has four locations. These acquisitions come shortly after he forked over $37 million for some assets of Gander Mountain, a hunting, fishing and camping retailer based in St. Paul, Minn., that filed for bankruptcy in March, and Overton’s, a Gander subsidiary that sold boating and marine goods. Lemonis, who also is host of reality TV show “The Profit,” also grabbed TheHouse.com, an online purveyor of bikes, skateboards and snowboards.
Lemonis, whose spokeswoman did not reply to interview requests, has made clear he views these outdoor retailers as a natural outlet through which to hawk Camping World’s highly profitable RVs and related services. Though he doesn’t intend to reopen all the 160 Gander stores that shuttered last spring, Lemonis has said he will bring back 55 to 65 physical locations. Some 15 of those will have Camping World dealerships co-located on the premises.
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