The St. Paul-based outdoor goods chain already has 11 Gander Mountain locations across the state — all of which sell guns — but its store in the western Twin Cities suburb will have strictly a firearms emphasis. The company boasts it is “the nation’s leading firearms retailer.”
The 30,000-square-foot Rogers location — formerly a Best Buy — will have its official grand-opening in May.
“The new Firearms Super Center concentrates on firearms, ammunition, hunting and tactical clothing,” said Steve Uline, Gander Mountain’s executive vice president of marketing.
Watch for a bill in the next session banning gun stores larger than 1,500 square feet – and a Star/Tribune Minnesota poll saying 90% of Minnesotans disapprove of big gun stores.
More below the jump.
It’s the market, of course:
In the past few years, Gander Mountain has significantly expanded its firearm offerings, both at its remodeled big-box stores and with its new Firearms Super Centers. The company said the store was planned well before the gun debate exploded nationwide following the Newtown school shooting.
“We debuted this concept in Germantown, Wis., in November 2011, so this is not necessarily a new thing nationwide, but it’s new to Minnesota, and there’s no real correlation to current events,” said Jess Myers, a spokesman for Gander Mountain.
Nevertheless, Uline cited three factors that are fueling firearm and ammunition sales.
“We’re all seeing a high demand for firearms and ammunition and it’s driven by the political environment,” he said. There’s also a strong interest “driven by home defense,” Uline said, as well as the growing popularity of “shooting for enjoyment” at shooting ranges.
Rogers is already home to a rival Cabela’s store, but the location along I-94 was nevertheless attractive, Uline said..
Look for Representative Heather Martens to predict an epic crime wave in the northwest exurbs in the next year or so.