Gander Mountain has come back to town. The big box outdoor sports retailer had made a home in Johnson City in 2004 but the store closed after it was flooded in 2011. The Johnson City store had a decent fly fishing offering along with a good line of outdoor clothing. Gander Mountain announced a re-opening for April 29th and on opening day, the parking lot was full and the store was quite busy. The impact of it's closing was both economical for the region and a loss for fly fishermen.
The new store's location may is the same, but that's about all that hasn't changed in some way. The 48,000 square foot facility went through a complete overhaul and refurbishment. During a recent visit, I noted that the interior had been nicely updated, including new flooring, a more spacious layout, and good visibility throughout the store. In general, the look and feel is very much Gander, but with a much expanded gun section as well as a very extensive outdoor apparel section. Conventional fishing gear (spin and baitcasting) also appeared to have a greater presence over the previous store. There was a nice outdoor footwear section that included shoes and boots along with an offering of high-end socks. Also of note was a cooler section that featured the Yeti brand of outdoor cooler, among others.
Here's a summary of what I found in terms of fly fishing:
- A small selection of St Croix and Redington mid-level fly rods, along with a few beginner fly rod and reel packages.
- A decent selection of name brand fly lines along with leaders and tippet. In general, terminal tackle selection was pretty good.
- Fly tying materials and supplies - enough to do in a pinch or for a beginner to start with, but not for the avid fly tyer.
- Flies - gone is the open fly bin that Gander used to have. The new section features packaged fly selections. There was a moderate selection of general patterns but nothing in comparison to a well stocked fly shop.
- Waders and boots were available but it was a limited selection and mainly of Gander Mountain brand, although the Korkers brand of wading boot with interchangeable soles was on display.
- Surprisingly, while there was an outdoor magazine rack, only one magazine related to fly fishing was for sale.
Overall, the store's offerings will please most who 'live outdoors'. Hunters and gun enthusiasts will be a lot happier with the new store, from my perspective. On the day I visited the store, the bulk of the traffic seemed to be in that area of the store - most likely turkey hunters getting ready for the big opening of the season. Conventional fishermen will also find Gander a good place to go. In the case of fly fishermen, I'd say beginners will like what they have to offer while more experienced anglers will probably only visit for basic supplies. The Binghamton area is not devoid of fly fishing shopping, after all. Current choices in the Binghamton area range from Dick's Sporting goods to Timber Creek Sportsman shop. If one is willing to travel a bit, there's the Ithaca Rod Company and Cortland Line Factory Store as well as the West Branch Angler.