August 22, 2013 Updated: August 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm
Hibbett Sports, an Alabama-based sporting goods chain that specializes in serving small to mid-sized markets, will open a store in late September in Fountain.
The 4,563-square-foot store, targeted to open around Sept. 20, is going into a portion of a remodeled Blockbuster Video store that's north of a Wal-Mart Supercenter along U.S. Highway 85, north of Fontaine Boulevard.
The store will employ eight to 10 full- and part-time workers.
It will be Hibbett's first store in the Pikes Peak region, but the chain might consider a couple more locations in areas outside Colorado Springs, such as in unincorporated Falcon northeast of town, said Jeff Gray, the retailer's vice president of real estate.
Hibbett carries large selections of brand-name apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories for individual and team sports, and also offers localized apparel and accessories for the markets it serves. Hibbett doesn't sell skiing, hunting, fishing or other outdoor merchandise.
The chain has more than 850 stores in 31 states, including seven locations in Colorado; the closest one to Colorado Springs is in Ca?n City.
Most Hibbett stores are about 5,000 square feet, and are in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Typically, they're located in large strip centers and enclosed malls.
Hibbett describes itself as the only sporting goods chain that's committed to serving smaller towns or suburbs of large cities, Gray said. In doing so, it offers convenient locations to customers in those areas, he said.
"With gas prices increasing and just daily traffic and dealing with going places, we can find some pockets where we think there's a good enough customer base in that pocket and we can keep the customer in that area," Gray said.
In Fountain's case, the city has a growing population - up 80 percent to 27,000 since 2000. Also, Gray said, it has a strong military presence because of nearby Fort Carson.
"There's a customer down there who's having to drive 15 or 20 minutes north to do major shopping, to get their sporting goods," Gray said. "We feel like there's a decent customer base down there, with the military and all, who'd probably like to stay in their area and not have to drive into Colorado Springs every time they need something."
The Pikes Peak region is served by major sporting goods retailers, such as REI, Sports Authority, Dick's Sporting Goods and Sportsman's Warehouse.
But Hibbett doesn't go head-to-head with REI and Sportsman's Warehouse because it doesn't carry outdoors goods, Gray said.
When it comes to the other competitors, Gray said, "we think that there's enough population in this area down here that doesn't really want to have to drive to those guys, if they can help it."
Hibbett's arrival fits in with a strategy by Fountain area officials to bring in targeted retailers and expand shopping options for residents of the fast-growing area. Sporting goods stores are on their wish list, along with electronics and appliances, furniture, clothing, garden supplies and sit-down restaurants, among others.
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