If you’re in the market for a mounted beaver, the best place to pick one up cheap may be in Ely, Minn., on Aug. 23.
A mounted black bear, a plaque of 11 mounted fish on a stringer as well as assorted boats, canoe racks, fishing nets, tents and other camping merchandise also will be up for auction when the Internal Revenue Service sells off the contents of Ely’s Wilderness Outfitters, which the IRS shuttered earlier this summer over federal liens and unpaid taxes.
Wilderness Outfitters, the oldest outfitter in Ely, was forced to close its doors in June, and most of its inventory was confiscated by the IRS over an ongoing financial dispute. The abrupt closure came as some clients were canoeing and camping in the wild during the height of the season.
Paperwork filed in federal court indicates the owners of the outfitter owe more than $136,000 in unpaid federal taxes, penalties and interest dating back to 2009. Previous attempts to collect, including installment-payment agreements, were not successful, forcing the seizure, court documents say. Store owners also face liens from the state of Minnesota and a suit over a mortgage default.
In an interview in June, Wilderness Outfitters owner Gary Gotchnik said his financial problems could be traced to a glut of outfitters in the Ely area, technical difficulties in federal permitting that resulted in thousands of dollars in lost revenue and a younger generation that is less enthusiastic than its predecessors about participating in a wilderness experience.
According to its website, Wilderness Outfitters, with an appropriate address of 1 E. Camp St., began operation in 1921. Gotchnik, who began working there as a fishing guide, and his family have been the sole owners since 1995.
Items up for auction reflect the remnants of a once-thriving business offering the memories and memorabilia of a wilderness experience: rows of open-bow boats, a hand-carved canoe, outboard and trolling motors, dry packs and folding chairs, and distinctive signs and other decor from the store.
Even the “Since 1921” sign is up for sale.
An initial sale with a minimum bid starts at $19,680, according to the IRS website. The auction starts at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 at R & R Transfer, 420 N. 15th Av. E., Building 10, in Ely.
The items can be inspected from noon to 3 p.m. the day before.