After about 40 years in business, the Wild Sports store in Orangevale, California is closing—Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) first sporting goods retailer victim of 2018. If 2017 was any indicator, the retail apocalypse will continue to claim both established and newer retailers in 2018.
Following decades of serving the Greater Sacramento Area, the family-owned hunting and fishing store will be closing its doors for good. While Wild Sports has been liquidating its stock for weeks, the company has not said when it will permanently shut its doors. In fact, “no comment” seems to be the company’s official response.
The reason for the Orangevale store closing is open for debate. New state gun laws and competition from online retailers are two theories. Wild Sports has been facing stiff competition from e-commerce sites like Amazon.com, and from newer physical stores in the area that sell guns.
Wild Sports was a big box sporting retailer before the category even existed. But a lot has changed in the last 40 years. Most recently, BASS Pro Shops and Sportsman’s Warehouse have opened their doors in Sacramento.
In a world of fierce competition, it looks like Wild Sports has lagged when it comes to customer service. On the ratings web site Yelp, Wild Sports only receives 2.5 out of 5 stars, with many complaining about the rude staff. The store’s strict no-return policy is also a little out of step with the broader retail industry, especially when a competitor like BASS Pro offers a “no hassle” return policy.
Beyond the poor customer service and weak return policy, Wild Sports seems to have failed to adapt to the new retail landscape. Its web site and online presence is seriously out of date (which, of course, now is a non-issue).
“Amazon Effect” Led to Big Box Sporting Goods Retailers Closing in 2017
Wild Sports is not, of course, the only recent example of physical sports retailers closing—or of sports retailer layoffs—due to the growing trend of online shopping. A growing number of sporting goods stores have fallen prey to the “Amazon effect,” and to other retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) that have ramped up their online presence.
Other popular sporting goods retailers closing their doors over the last few years include MC Sports, Sports Authority, Golfsmith, and Sports Chalet. Just last July, Academy Sports + Outdoors announced that it had laid off 100 employees at its corporate headquarters in Katy, Texas. The company said the layoffs would help it achieve greater efficiency.
Others companies have not fared as well.
In March 2017, Gander Mountain, the country’s largest outdoor specialty retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In February of that year, Gander Mountain said, “like most retailers, we are subject to normal economic cycles, changes in our industry and shifts in consumer demand that require us to adapt our business accordingly.”
One month later, Gander officially filed for bankruptcy. The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company said it was looking for a potential buyer, but none surfaced. The company decided to restructure, which led to the closure of 32 underperforming stores (20% of its 160 stores). That led to more than 1,280 layoffs.
Then, in May 2017, Gander Mountain and its boating business, Overton’s, were acquired by Camping World Holdings Inc at a bankruptcy auction for around $390.0 million. The company liquidated all 162 locations.
Other sports retailers continue to struggle, including Cabela’s, Eastern Mountain Sports, City Sports, and Bob’s Stores.
“Hunting and fishing store closing after 40 years in Orangevale,” Sacramento Bee, January 6, 2018.
“Wild Sports,” Yelp, last accessed January 8, 2018.
“Wild Sports,” Wild Sports, last accessed January 8, 2018.
“Gander Mountain responds to reports of potential bankruptcy,” KWCH, February 14, 2017.
“Camping World wins Gander Mountain bankruptcy auction,” Chicago Tribune, May 1, 2017.