A new Hibbett Sports store opened Saturday in Chapel Hill Mall.
It is the Akron-Canton region’s fifth location. The sporting goods store’s first was in Massillon about six years ago, said Jimmy White, Hibbett real estate manager based at the company’s headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., who brokered the Chapel Hill deal.
“We’re doing quite well in the area,” White said. Other locations include Canton, Green and a store that opened in December in Brimfield Township in the Cascades retail development. That store was relocated from outside Kent on state Route 59. White said the location was not right and store officials felt they were on the wrong side of the university.
“We felt like most of those shoppers from Kent State were going to Chapel Hill, so that was another reason to go to Chapel Hill,” he said.
Hibbett, which describes itself as a mom-and-pop sporting goods store with excellent customer service, typically does not focus on metropolitan areas, but the stores in the Akron area have been doing very well, White said.
The stores compete with large sporting goods stores like Dick’s and retailers such as Foot Locker that tend to be inside malls, he said.
“We try to stay away from those guys for the most part,” White said of Dick’s. “They’re 50,000 square feet and we’re 5,000. We’re full on sporting goods and we specialize in team sports, baseball, football and basketball,” he said. The stores also have athletic footwear, workout apparel and equipment.
The Dick’s Sporting Goods location near Chapel Hill Mall is moving around the corner from Buchholzer Boulevard to Howe Avenue and building a new store. Asked if that will affect the new Hibbett Sports, both White and his district manager for Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, David Herald, said no.
“This is one of the first times we’ve opened up where there was a Dick’s already in the market. It’s not going to hurt us at all,” Herald said. “We’re not going to hurt them. We co-exist.”
At Chapel Hill Mall, the Hibbett Sports will be just off the food court next to American Commodore Tuxedo, in a location that has had many temporary tenants, said Stacey Keating, marketing specialist for the mall.
“We’re happy to get somebody who will be there for the long term,” she said.
“It’s always great for us to add new options for our shoppers. We like to keep the variety and upgrade our tenant mix whenever possible. Hibbett joining the mall will definitely do that for us,” she said.
In other mall news, the Claire’s store is remodeling and moving to a new location in the Sears wing, Keating said.
The mall location is a good location for the store, White said. Hibbett is in enclosed malls and retail strip malls.
“Being in an enclosed mall, you get some encapsulated traffic. People are going to go to the mall and walk the mall. People that don’t go to the mall, that’s the strip customer. We feel like there are two different customers,” he said.
The Chapel Hill store will have about seven to eight staffers, compared with the eight to 12 at other stores, Herald said.