Replace cosmetics with a spa department, swap men’s suits for a putting green; Belts for batting cages and you have the makings of what is fast becoming the 21st century department store: an oversized, interactive venue for sporting goods.
This weekend marks the grand opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods House of Sport at Ridgedale Center. At 115,000 square feet, the concept store will become a new anchor for the Minnetonka mall. Dick’s took the roof off of an old Sears store to accommodate its 35-foot climbing wall. For the dealer it is only the third “House of Sport”. The other two opened last year in Victor, New York, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The company chose the Twin Cities because Dick’s former store in Minnetonka, just one exit east on I-394, was a top performer for the chain, said marketing manager Jill Woods. And Ridgedale had this empty anchorage in need of redevelopment.
Scheels did the same at the Eden Prairie Center in 2020, when it opened a store more than twice the size of the new Dick’s, with a Ferris wheel, large hunting department, and some similar interactive features like a golf simulator and batting cage. Of course, REI’s Bloomington store paved the way for an in-store climbing wall years ago, and Cabela’s stores have long been tourist attractions in their own right.
“The category lends itself to personal and experiential conversations,” said retail expert Beth Perro-Jarvis of Ginger Consulting in Minneapolis. “It’s also a category with huge global power brands like Nike and Adidas, and they have the money for these types of stores as well as cool innovation experiments.”
As Nike withdraws its wholesale partnerships in favor of more direct customer engagement, the brand takes a prominent role in Dick’s House of Sports. At 7,000 square feet, the Minnetonka store’s shoe department is the retailer’s largest nationwide, Woods said. There is also a separate “House of Cleats” department.
Back in March, Dick’s launched an ad campaign highlighting its female leadership, and House of Sports builds on the brand’s intent to appeal to women. At the House of Sports, sports bras get their own section, with a floor-to-ceiling display wall and pull-out merchandise drawers reminiscent of Victoria’s
Secret. Fitting rooms, an afterthought from the old shop, now have a lounge area in front. “We call them social dressing rooms,” Woods said. “With great lighting for selfies.”
The store also features new brands that Dick’s is testing, such as men’s Chubbies swim trunks, and an expanded range of popular brands. In addition to Rawlings baseballs and gloves, you’ll find the brand’s leather tote bags.
“This is a testing and learning environment,” Woods said during a tour of the store ahead of Friday’s dedication ceremony. She pointed to the flexibility in every department of the House of Sport — for example, showcases filled with nutritional supplements, sports drinks, and “gym bag essentials” like deodorant and moisturizers can be swapped out to transform the space into a yoga studio. The machine court club cage is available for hire and buyers can take a lesson with the in-store golf pro.
“We’re very community and event oriented,” Woods said. “We want people to try the products.”
Directly in front of the store, Dick’s is building a 20,000 square foot turf field and running track that will open in the fall. When it’s not being used for soccer clubs and boot camp fitness classes, it’s available for open play, Woods said. In winter, the field is converted into an ice hockey rink.
“You can’t ignore the fact that we’re all pretty tired of being at home,” Perro-Jarvis said. “It’s just fun now to go to a store in person to buy something useful for everyday life like sports while having an engaging and interesting experience. and novel. Hybrid really is for just about anything, and when there’s a good reason to shop in person, I think consumers will be motivated and excited to get out there.”