The long-awaited Gander Mountain store opens at 10 a.m. Thursday, at 1230 Central Park Drive in O’Fallon, becoming the chain’s ninth store in Illinois and second in the St. Louis area.
Gander Mountain, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing retail network of outdoor specialty stores for hunting, fishing, camping, marine and outdoor lifestyle products and services. It has 160 stores in 27 states, including a store in Fenton, Mo. It also has online and catalog sales.
Gander Mountain will celebrate its new store opening in O’Fallon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
O’Fallon Planning and Zoning Director Ted Shekell said Gander Mountain is expected to provide a substantial boost to the region’s economy. Shekell said the store has hired 91 new people for full- and part-time jobs and is projected to generate $20 million a year in sales. He said the new store will fill an under-served market in the metro-east.
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“Gander Mountain is a great retailer and they’re a good fit for Central Park in O’Fallon, Shiloh and surrounding areas that have not had fishing and outdoor sports and camping stores,” Shekell said. “In the past, if you wanted things like that, you had to go to St. Louis and (St. Charles) to Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s. I think this is going to give people in our area a place to go.”
The newly constructed store has wall-to-wall inventory within the 61,00-square-foot building. The area’s largest selection of hunting and personal defense firearms will be lined along the store’s back wall, and the inventory will be rotated according to the game in season. A wide selection of corresponding camouflage gear and outdoor apparel also will be featured.
“We’ll have the biggest hunting selection, by far, in the area,” said store manager Richard Huskey. “There’s an enormous fishing selection, everything you need for all of the freshwater fishing around here, and fly fishing as well. We have a great selection of lures, rods, reels and fish finders to make fishing a little bit easier, if there is such a thing.”
The store also stocks a wide variety of camping gear in the form of tents, sleeping bags, canopies, folding chairs, coolers, grills, smokers and more.
“We will have anything you need in order to have a really good time outdoors, whether you are in your backyard, on a trail or in the woods,” Huskey said. “It will be the largest assortment around here, for sure.”
Shekell also expects a lot of traffic when the store opens Thursday morning. When Menards opened its first metro-east home improvement store two years ago down the road, the city witnessed bumper-to-bumper traffic along Central Park Drive as vehicles were backed up onto the intersection at Green Mount Road for the first two weeks.
“I would expect there to be some congestion and some traffic issues for a while,” Shekell said. “For Menards, it was very congested for a couple of weeks, but the city, county and IDOT cooperated to handle it. We expect there to be lots of folks interested to see what they have to offer. For two to three weeks, it will be very busy. We think there will be traffic congestion out there, but it’s better than not having any traffic.”
The destination is expected to be especially popular on weekends as people come from other areas to go to Gander Mountain, Menards and the many restaurants that have sprung up along Central Park Drive.
The city is addressing the congestion at the intersection of Green Mount Road and Central Park Drive by looking into adding more lanes to accommodate additional capacity, Shekell said. The city has been awarded a CMAQ grant, estimated at $800,000, by East-West Gateway in St. Louis to improve the intersection. Shekell said the project has entered the planning and design phase, which is expected to continue for the next 12-18 months.
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.
Gander Mountain grand opening
A wide variety of activities is planned Thursday through Sunday, including a live country music concert by darryl Worley; product demonstrations; clinics by bass fishing pros, and appearances by area sports personalities, including Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and players Randal Grichuck and Trevor Rosenthal.
In addition, the first 1,000 customers each day will receive a free scratch-off cars with prizes valued at $5 to $100. Customers also can register for a chance to win a $500 Columbia shopping spree.
Doors open each day at 10 a.m.
For more information and a full schedule of events, go to http://www.gandermountain.com/grandopenings/o-fallon.shtml