Gander Mountain confirmed Tuesday's report by the New York Times that it is expanding its shoe selection to include nearly 65 brands and approximately 550 styles of performance, hiking, hunting and outdoor shoes, boots and sandals.

Effective today, Gander Mountain locations across the United States will begin offering an enormous selection of active performance footwear to match an expanding assortment of competitively priced outdoor equipment, technical apparel and active lifestyle wear. Customers can choose from various brands and styles that are suited for outside activities.

“More and more people are taking on active, outside lifestyles, and we’re providing them with the performance footwear they need to enjoy any activity,” said Steve Uline, executive vice president, marketing at Gander Mountain. “Outdoor activities like trail running and hiking continue to grow, and our customers are looking for footwear selection and expertise they can’t get at traditional shoe stores or big box retailers.”

The store will offer more than 20 new brands including Adidas, Asics, Baffin, Bates, Blackhawk, BOGS, Brooks, Caddis, Clarks, Durango, Georgia, Keen Utility, Montrail, New Balance, Oakley, Rugged Shark, Salomon, Sanuk, Saucony, Under Armour and Vasque.

To kick off its aggressive move into performance footwear, the retailer has launched the Gander Mountain of Shoes sweepstakes – one of the largest shoe giveaways in history – on August 23. One man, woman and child will be selected as grand prize winners and win a pair of every men’s, women’s and kids’ shoe, respectively, that the store offers. Another 354 winners will win gift cards valued up to $100 that can be applied to any shoe purchase.

“We see the Gander Mountain of Shoes as a chance to introduce our customers to our new and huge performance footwear selection,” said Uline. “We’re putting employees through intense ‘Footwear University’ training to go beyond the basics and ensure our customers get the right fit, support and weight they need out of their shoes.”

Footwear University is a three-day curriculum to educate Gander Mountain managers and footwear associates about getting customers the right shoe for any activity they enjoy. Trainees meet with various footwear vendors to discuss key elements of those vendors’ shoes, and develop plans to train other footwear associates at their individual stores. Approximately 400 new employees have been hired nationwide to support the footwear expansion.