May 28, 2022

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Sports Really Satisfies

Dick’s Sporting Goods to open experiential retail store at Ridgedale Center

When customers head to the new Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Minnetonka, they won’t just shop. They’ll be able to get in some golf swings and run a few laps around the track.

In May, Dick’s plans to open a new experiential store, which the company is calling its “House of Sport” store, in what was the former Sears at Ridgedale Center.

Like other retailers across the country, Dick’s is investing more in stores in which customers can try out products and ask questions of staff.

Dick’s has heralded the opening as part of “the future of retail” complete with a 20,000-square-foot outdoor turf field and running track, a rock climbing wall and batting cage and hitting bays for baseball and golf simulations.

Other additions include a putting green, hockey shop and areas to fix and repair equipment, such as stringing lacrosse sticks and sharpening hockey skates. Customers will also be able to participate in sports clinics, yoga classes and other programming.

The outdoor field and running track attached to the store will open later this year and host open play as well as fitness and sports clinics. In the winter, the field will be converted to an ice skating rink and offer open skating, lessons and games.

Dick’s is currently looking for 200 employees for the new store.

Last spring, the Pittsburgh-based retailer debuted the “House of Sport” concept at its location in Victor, N.Y. It has since opened another House of Sport in Knoxville, Tenn.

Dick’s has seen its sales grow during the pandemic. Last week, Dick’s reported a record $12.3 billion in sales during the fiscal year ended Jan. 29. Its same-store sales grew 26.5% against the pandemic-hampered previous year.

The trend toward experiential stores has been noticeable in sporting goods for several years in the Twin Cities. In 2015, Bauer Hockey, a leading maker of hockey gear, opened a superstore in Bloomington that includes a full-sized ice rink. The next year, the PGA Tour Superstore chain opened a location near Ridgedale in Minnetonka complete with simulators, hitting bays and a 1,500-square-foot putting green.

Scheels, the Fargo, N.D.-based sporting goods chain, in summer 2020 opened a 250,000-square-foot superstore on the site where Sears had been at Eden Prairie Center. It features one of the region’s largest selections of hunting merchandise, has a saltwater aquarium, mini hockey rink and an indoor Ferris wheel.

Even some apparel retailers are taking an extra step to make the shopping experience different. Canada Goose, the upscale parka brand, opened a store at the Mall of America in 2019 that features a room set to minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit for customers to test their coats.