There is good news for outdoorsy people in the Bay area: Another outdoor recreation superstore is preparing to open here, possibly by this fall. As first reported Wednesday by the Tribune, Gander Mountain will soon start renovations at a former Best Buy location on West Hillsborough Avenue, turning the roughly 34,000-square-foot space into a superstore teeming with gear for fishing, boating, camping and hunting — complete with a significant firearms shop inside. “Gander Mountain has been a well-known and trusted name in the Sunshine State among those who love the outdoors, and who enjoy great traditions like hunting, fishing, hiking, boating and camping,” said David Pratt, Gander Mountain’s president and CEO. “We are thrilled to bring a new Gander Mountain store to the Tampa Bay metro area, and give more of our friends in the Gulf Coast region opportunities to experience our top-quality gear and knowledgeable service at great prices.” Gander Mountain officials said they are targeting this fall for a grand opening.
The site at 11655 W. Hillsborough Ave. would be Gander Mountain’s first shop on Florida’s west coast and its sixth in the state. Gander Mountain’s opening follows two major projects announced by rival outdoor equipment retailers. The renovation of Dick’s Sporting Goods new location already is underway at the former Saks Fifth Avenue space in WestShore Plaza in Tampa. Bass Pro Shops is developing an outdoor equipment store and entertainment complex in Brandon that is slated to include a boat shop, restaurant and bowling lanes, according to its website. Compared to a traditional sporting goods store, Gander Mountain tends to lean less toward the balls-and-sticks sports such as football or baseball and more toward the camping and hiking community. Stores tend to have large selections of tents, apparel, canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Tampa will be the sixth Gander Mountain location in Florida, joining existing stores in Jacksonville, Ocala, Palm Beach Gardens, St. Augustine and Lake Mary, which is home to the nation’s first and largest Gander Mountain Academy. By their estimates, Gander Mountain officials said the new store in Tampa would have one of the largest selections of new and used firearms in Florida, with both hunting shotguns and rifles, but also personal protection pistols and other firearm gear. Other Gander Mountain locations in Florida have gun “Superstores” inside, complete with 360-degree virtual reality shooting ranges, but this location would not be as extensive, company officials said. On Aug. 19, the company started began posting job openings online for the Tampa store, using the same 33635 zip code as the Hillsborough Avenue address. Openings included positions as supervisors in footwear, fishing/marine, firearms, camping, apparel and several assistant manager slots. The privately held, St. Paul, Minn.-based company has 123 stores; company officials have said they plan to have more than 130 by the end of the year. [email protected] (813) 259-7919 Twitter: @DailyDeadline