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Gander Mtn. coming to MJ

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Gander Mountain coming to Mt. Juliet

Gander Mountain is comin’ round the mountain to Mt. Juliet.

Representatives of the large retailer of outdoor gear will appear before Mt. Juliet Planning Commission on Thursday seeking approval to build a 52,000-square-foot store across Belinda Parkway from Providence MarketPlace.

City Manager Kenny Martin said the new retailer “would be a destination store.”
Mayor Ed Hagerty added that while it’s not a done deal yet, he’s also pleased that the St. Paul, Minn.-based retail network is looking at Mt. Juliet.

“I’m very excited,” Hagerty said. “It would be a destination store, where people would come from other counties and states to shop. A destination store like this is a draw. It would be very attractive right up against the interstate.”

The mayor added, “It’s going to have some traffic, but that’s part of it.”
District Four Commissioner Jim Bradshaw said that while he’s never seen a Gander Mountain store, he thinks it will be a good fit for his district.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is very excited about it,” he said. “I think it will be good for Mt. Juliet.”

The store, which offers hunting, fishing, camping, boating and outdoor lifestyle products, would offer a local alternative to driving to Opry Mills to shop at Bass Pro Shops, Martin also pointed out.

Officials at Gander Mountain’s corporate office did not comment specifically on plans to open in Mt. Juliet, but the preliminary plans are already on the agenda for this week’s Planning Commission meeting. If the commission approves, construction could start as early as January.

If the deal works out, about five acres on Belinda Parkway would be sold to Gander Mountain as a site for the new store.

Zoning for the building is in place and would not require commission approval, Hagerty said.
“They still have a few hurdles left to clear, but it looks good at this point,” Martin added.

A Gander Mountain store generally has 20-30 full-time employees, according to a company spokesman.
Dedicated turn lanes into the site and the extension of some water lines are part of the proposal, according to plans on file in the Mt. Juliet Planning office.

If Gander Mountain officials follow through and buy the property, about two parcels would remain.
“Where it will be located will be a good fit for them as far as getting in and out and being close to the interstate,” Bradshaw said. “Where it is, I don’t think it will have a huge impact on traffic.”

The property was previously being marketed for a 73,000-square-foot retail space for multiple retailers dubbed The Shoppes of Providence Way.

“It’s a pretty store,” Martin said about Gander Mountain’s appearance. Although the store would differ somewhat from its nearest existing location in Bowling Green, Ky., that store features rustic-timber pillars set in stone bases and supporting a peaked roof over the store’s front entrance, which is the store’s signature “look.”

The major difference in Mt. Juliet would be that the store’s exterior walls on either side of the entrance and elsewhere would be brick instead of wood and stucco, according to artist’s conceptions included in the plans that the Planning Commission will review Thursday night.

Inside the Bowling Green store, a wide array of merchandise includes outdoor wear by Carhartt and The North Face and Gander Mountain’s own brand, plus outdoor gear ranging from inflatable boats and rows and rows of fishing rods and reels to a full stock of new and used firearms in the back.
Gander Mountain currently has two Tennessee locations, including one in Jackson and one in Knoxville.

Locating in Mt. Juliet would expand the store’s presence in Tennessee to three, and Mt. Juliet, which primarily funds its city government through its sales tax revenues, would benefit financially as well.

Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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