Gander Outdoors is connecting with customers from early sales reports and consumer interaction, said Cory Frantzick, Gander Outdoors store manager, retail.

Gander is once again eager to be the store people go to for outdoor and recreational needs, and be a source for supplies, purchases and service for RVs.

City officials and Gander representatives gathered in late June as the city presented Gander with a plaque and welcomed the store back into the community in an area many hoped would be redeveloped after Gander Mountain closed in 2017. Mayor Darrel Olson and city council members Zach Tabatt, Connie Lyscio, Todd Holman, along with staff members, including Brad Chapulis, city administrator, and Josh Doty, community development director, were present for the short ceremony.

“And we know that as a company you had a large decision to make as you were reorganizing and seeing the value in Baxter and making that investment we truly appreciate that,” said Brad Chapulis, Baxter city administrator. Chapulis said if Gander Outdoors, as a corporate leader, hadn’t made the investment to be here, the city wouldn’t be seeing the things happening around them. Those things included additional construction with a building going up this summer in front of Gander with two familiar restaurant names included in documents developers filed with the city -- namely Chipotle and Five Guys.

Frantzick said Gander Outdoors has more products than the story ever had before and is also focused on being regionally relevant, meaning it has the supplies that match the local environment, such as items needed to fish here in the Brainerd lakes area. Gander also partners with local manufacturers and area based companies like Lucky Joe lures, Frantzick said. “A lot of big box retailers don’t think that way.”

“Our core philosophy is to become part of the community,” Frantzick said, said they reach out to local manufacturers to get their product in the store so we can help them grow with us. “We want to be part of the community. And, also, we’re looking for every weekend to have different events here at the store. So this is a great opportunity for nonprofits. We supply the hotdogs and all the food and the grill, everything. All you have to do is show up with smiling faces and you reap the benefits for whatever organization you are trying to raise funds for.”

Gander Outdoors stores are required to do eight hours of community service every quarter so employees, who are on the clock and paid, go out into the community for the outreach.

The store doesn’t have as much apparel as Gander Mountain but focus on key items that help people get outside, Frantzick said.

Frantzick said the consumer response has already been strong and had them meeting their budget for June well before the month was over.

“What the community has done has been nothing short of amazing so far, We beat all of our sales goals so far year to date,” Frantzick said, adding customer feedback has been incredible and often related to the sheer number of merchandize in the store. Gander carries live bait, which its predecessor did not.

In addition to the retail store, Gander Outdoors includes an entire recreational vehicles community within its walls in addition to the models in the outdoor display area, meaning people can walk through what feels like an indoor camping village complete with coolers, bicycles and lawn chairs to examine RVs in depth and in comfort no matter the weather. Gander Outdoors, Overton’s and Camping World are all part of the redevelopment.

Gaylan Pegel, general sales manager, said there are 45 different floor plans on 45-50 campers available for people to check out -- all inside. They believe they have the largest showfloor for RVs in the state.

“It looks like a mini city inside,” he said.

Outside there are about 120 models for a recreational vehicle lifestyle, Gander Outdoors managers note is growing.

Also, Pegel said there are more than 170 units available from $9,900 to $100,000.

“So there is really a camper that somebody can have for everyone’s budget and we have on the spot financing available.”

People can realistically be camping by a summer weekend when the come in for zero down and no payments for 90 days, Pegel said. In addition, there are 10 bays for service. Pegel said he’s been a camper with a fifth-wheel for 20 years and the wait for the service was always a challenge but the additional bays here should make a difference when people are looking to get help.

Jackie Beaudry, service director, said the philosophy is to keep people camping.

“So any usability any items that stop people from camping, whether it be electrical, water heater, A/C, plumbing issues, we turn it around within 24 hours the best we can so that you guys can keep camping,” Beaudry said.

Gander Outdoors had a soft opening in April and a grand opening in May.

The Walmart Supercenter in Baxter completed its pickup area. Customers can shop for groceries online, place the order for same-day pickup and at the store, employees will load their car. The pickup area was part of the store’s major renovation projects, which began in 2018 with a store remodel and technology additions.

Looking for something to do this weekend? It’s Downtown Nisswa Crazy Days continues 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Sourcewell is hosting a Minnesota Summit for Learning and Leading and expecting about 385 teachers and education staff in the lakes area Aug. 13-14 at Madden’s on Gull Lake. The event is aimed at giving regional educators new information and resources with breakout sessions, keynote speakers and networking opportunities before school starts.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at