Brick-and-Mortar: Finding opportunity in retail retrenchment

Overstock and Bargains

Overstocks and Bargains

7520 N. Loop 820

North Richland Hill 76180


- FWBP Digital Partners -

The irony of Trent Gilley’s latest business venture isn’t lost on him.

With years of experience in commercial real estate, Gilley can adeptly read the tea leaves in the marketplace. Now, as a partner in a real estate holding firm called RG4 Holdings, Gilley’s experience with shopping center investment provides keen insight to the struggle of retailer stores against the growing tide of online shopping.

So why did a guy who bought all of his Christmas gifts and even purchases dog food online open a new brick-and-mortar store?

- Advertisement -

The short answer is opportunity.

“We pursue opportunity where the market presents itself,” Gilley said. “I know it sounds a little contradictory,” he admits.

In this case, the opportunity came from the bankruptcy and liquidation of Gander Mountain outdoors specialty stores.

Gilley and his business partner in RG4 Holdings, Jim Ryffel, moved quickly to scoop up inventory from local Gander Mountain stores and sell it at a deeply discounted price. The inventory was purchased with private capital from the firm.

- Advertisement -

Ryffel is founder and president of Woodcrest Capital. Gilley worked for Woodcrest for many years as managing director of the firm, which specializes acquiring and redeveloping shopping centers, particularly distressed properties.

With retail space available in a shopping center, and the partners’ own, and abundant Gander Mountain inventory in hand, the opportunity for Overstocks and Bargains was born.

The 60,000-square-foot store opened in a North Richland Hills shopping center in November.

“We’re really excited about it,” Gilley said. “We’re in the retail business.”

Overstocks and Bargains is not intended to be a temporary operation that will only last until the Gander Mountain inventory is gone.

Instead, Gilley said, the plan is to buy up inventory from other retailers that are liquidating through bankruptcy.

The investment firm has its eye on 21 distressed retailers that are expected to file or complete bankruptcy in 2018, Gilley said.

“Our inventory will be constantly changing,” he said.

But one aspect of the operation will remain unchanged: prices will be lower than anywhere else, including the online mega retailer that has caused so much financial pain for brick-and-mortar retailers: Amazon, he said.

Gilley said the company’s strategy is to undercut the competition by cutting out the middleman, who typically takes a cut as inventory moves from bankruptcy to liquidation.

The firm is working directly with receivers appointed by bankruptcy court judges to liquidate inventory to repay debts to investors.

“The consumer end price is what matters,” Gilley said. “We want to offer the lowest possible price.”

With no rent to pay or middleman’s cut, Overstocks and Bargains has tapped into a bargain-hunter’s dream come true.

Prices are lower than Amazon and discounters like TJ Maxx, long regarded as a favorite among savvy bargain hunters.

The Gander Mountain haul came from 14 regional store closings. Merchandise is available in the Overstocks and Bargains store at 7520 N. Loop 820 and online.

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Gander Mountain was once the largest chain of hunting, fishing and camping specialty stores in the United States. A year ago, it operated 162 stores in 27 states with 22 stores in Texas, including stores in Fort Worth and Arlington among its six locations in North Texas.

The company filed for bankruptcy in March 2017 and the chain’s assets were purchased in May by Marcus Lemonis, known for his work on CNBC’s The Profit and chairman of Camping World Holdings.

Lemonis has announced plans to re-open stores under the name of Gander Outdoors, including the Fort Worth store at 6001 Quebec St.

Meanwhile, Overstocks and Bargains is selling hundreds of items such as Gander Mountain seven-foot, six-inch Angler Series Bass Fishing Rod for $62 and a Gander Mountain Advantage Spinning reel for $26.99. Also, guns, ammunition, clothing and footwear are selling at rock-bottom prices.

Unlike other brick-and-mortar retailers, Overstocks and Bargains encourages customers to indulge in a practice known as “showrooming,” Gilley said. Other retailers discourage this practice of allowing customers touch and examine merchandise and then search online in the store for a better price.

“We want people to walk around with their phones and check prices online,” Gilley said. “We keep up with prices online and we want our customers to know they are getting the best price.”

Gilley, 43, is a native of Fort Worth, who attended Southwest High School and Texas Christian University. “I’ve lived in the same zip code my entire life,” he said.

After closing more than $450 million in real estate deals during his career, he is driven by the lure of a good deal. And what could be better than buying quality goods at a bargain price?

“I love to bargain hunt,” he said. “What could be more exciting than a getting a great deal?”

Gilley said he foresees continued success for Overstocks and Bargains because of its great prices, an experienced team that includes attorneys knowledgeable about bankruptcy proceedings, a technology guru to operate the website and an experienced store manager who understands that bargain shoppers prefer a neat and pleasant shopping experience to digging through messy bins of merchandise.

As for the future?

Who knows, Gilley said.

“We can’t foresee the future,” he said. “We’ll just keeping looking for opportunities wherever they present themselves.”