Carrie Rengers

Change in plans: Camping World will open in Wichita under new name

New water park planned in south Wichita

(January 2019) Splash Aqua Park, on the lake at Steeple Bay near the new Camping World and Gander Outdoors, will look much like this when it’s finished.
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(January 2019) Splash Aqua Park, on the lake at Steeple Bay near the new Camping World and Gander Outdoors, will look much like this when it’s finished.

Camping World Holdings chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis is still bringing RVs to Wichita, but it won’t be under the Camping World name as planned.

Gander RV is how the store will be branded here, and it will be within a new Gander Outdoors store. That’s the updated version of the former Gander Mountain that used to be in the WaterWalk development downtown.

“At the end of the day, the Gander brand is an important one,” says Melissa Nance, Camping World’s director of real estate and development.

The store will have a soft opening at Steeple Bay, a Triple Crown Realty Trust development, at I-235 and Seneca around Aug. 20.

Nance says the date depends on DMV licensing, “which has been exceedingly challenging, but we are working with them.”

Plans changed a bit from when Lemonis announced he would bring the two concepts to Steeple Bay.

There are still two new buildings as originally planned, but one will be for sales and one for service.

RV sales will be handled out of a 43,000-square-foot building on the lake at Steeple Bay.

The store also will carry all the merchandise that Gander Mountain used to carry, including firearms, hunting supplies, fishing gear, kayaks and additional items related to RVs.

A 33,000-square-foot building next to Gander Outdoors will handle RV service.

RVs are moving onto the Gander RV lot now.

There will be 250 coaches at the property, including everything from top-of-the-line motor homes to fold-down and pop-up trailers.

This will be the first Gander Outdoors and Gander RV for Kansas.

“We’re just incredibly excited to be in Wichita,” Nance says.

There are more than 140 Camping Worlds, and she says there will be almost 50 Gander Outdoors and Gander RV stores by the end of the year.

Both stores are part of the larger Camping World Holdings, a publicly traded company.

Nance says the company has determined which markets make sense for each brand.

A grand opening, which may or may not include Lemonis, will happen Labor Day weekend.

“We are optimistic that he is going to be able to join us,” Nance says.

The stores will have a massive flag-raising ceremony to celebrate their opening.

The flag is 3,200 square feet — or bigger than the average house — and takes 10 to 20 people to raise. It also takes money to maintain, but Nance says Lemonis — who was adopted from Lebanon by a Miami family — values the American dream and supports the military.

Nance says Camping World and Gander companies give priority to veterans, active members of the military and their families for jobs.

Triple Crown managing partner Jeff Lange of Lange Real Estate said via e-mail that the trust is thrilled to help bring Gander to Wichita.

“The buildings and facilities are beautiful and have come in on time and under budget.”

Through the e-mail, Lange said it was a smooth process working with Dondlinger Construction, MKEC and the Gander team.

“As we always do, we will continue to drive their success as we are much more than just any real estate transaction,” he said.

“They have made a commitment to Wichita, the CrossGate District and Steeple Bay and we will keep them engaged with all that we are creating. We know the public can’t wait for them to open their doors and that is exciting.”

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