Scheels All Sports won't open in Colorado Springs for seven months, but the outdoor equipment, sporting goods and apparel retailer has started hiring several hundred employees to staff what will be one of the city's largest brick-and-mortar stores.

The store, which will be the second in Colorado for the North Dakota-based Scheels, is under construction at InterQuest Marketplace, east of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway. It's scheduled to open March 27.

Scheels plans to hire 350 people — 120 full-time employees and 230 part-timers. Interviews for full-time staffers started this week, while the majority of interviews for part-time workers will begin later this year.

Job seekers can learn more about the store and available positions at www.scheels.com/coloradosprings.

According to Scheels' website, the retailer is initially hiring managers for some of its 75 specialty shops within its larger store, such as biking, camping, fly fishing, golf, hunting, home decor, men's athletic clothing, women's fashion and youth apparel.

An employee-owned chain of 28 stores in 13 states, Scheels bills itself as a place where outdoor enthusiasts go for an experience, not just to shop.

Its massive, two-level store in Colorado Springs will cover 220,000 square feet — about the size of a Walmart Supercenter — and will be similar to a Scheels location that opened in September 2017 in Johnstown, north of Denver.

The chain targeted the Springs for a new store, in part, because local residents embrace the outdoors, said Cory Tweden, store leader for the retailer's Springs location.

"We think just this market in general, people love to be outside, people love to play sports, people love to hunt and fish," he said.

In addition to specialty shops, the Scheels store will have baseball and golf simulators, a shooting gallery, mini bowling alley and cafe, Tweden said.

Attractions will include a second-floor wildlife mountain, made of 20,000 pounds of concrete, that will display 200 taxidermy-preserved animals, he said.

A 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium will sit on the first floor directly beneath the mountain, while Scheels' trademark, 65-foot tall indoor Ferris wheel that customers can ride will be erected in the center of the store.

Besides offering shoppers an experience, Tweden said the retailer prides itself of having industry experts on staff — for biking, outdoor activities, apparel and the like — who can work with customers on their purchases.

The Colorado Springs City Council approved a $16.2 million incentive for Scheels in February 2019. At the time, city staffers estimated the store's economic impact could total $1.5 billion over 25 years, including generating $39.9 million to $53.4 million in tax revenue over that period.

Of that amount, $20.2 million would go the city's general fund to help pay for basic services. Scheels also planned to spend $84 million to build its store, city officials said last year.

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