New Game in Town

Sporting and Recreation Mega-store Scheels Set for Grand Opening

Tom Haraldsen

August 1, 2012

Utah is about to be home to one of the nation’s largest sporting and recreation mega-stores: Scheels. The one-stop superstore has something for everyone, including entertainment for the little ones. Scheels is a game-changer for Utah’s sports and recreation scene and the economy.

The company’s 25th nationwide location will open its doors at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 29, a date etched in stone, according to Karen Jones, who is the store leader.

After several years of scouting locations in the West, plus more than four years of planning and designing, the new 220,000-square-foot Scheels of Sandy will soon be in business.

What’s the Big Deal?
The Scheels in Sandy, at 11400 South just off I-15, is designed to be more than just a shopping experience. “We want everyone in the family to feel entertained when they come here,” Jones says. “It’s a place where you can spend a lot of time, and everyone in the family can enjoy their visit.”

The merchandise mix will include sportswear, footwear, sporting goods and brand-name clothing, along with sport and game shops. Brand-name concept shops by Nike, adidas, Columbia, Under Armour and The North Face will feature sports apparel. In all, the store will have 98 different departments, each with its own manager.

Company officials say the specialty shops, ranging from fashion apparel and running gear to hunting and fishing equipment, are designed to offer Utah’s largest selection of apparel and footwear.

Jones adds that the gun and hunting shops will have the largest selection in Utah, ranging from everyday shooters to $20,000 collectible firearms displayed in the store’s gun room.

Esthetically, the store will include eight life-like bronze sculptures and a 16,000-gallon salt water aquarium filled with brilliantly colored fish over one of the entrances. Visitors will be awed by a 35-foot, 1,200-square-foot Wildlife Mountain, as well as huge bears and giant fish. Entertainment will include mini bowling, a nostalgic shooting gallery and a hunting simulator. There will also be a five-sport simulator with sports that include basketball, soccer, hockey baseball and football.

Certainly the most talked-about feature will be the store’s 65-foot, 16-car Ferris wheel.

“We know the Ferris wheel will really add to the joy in the store, particularly for children,” Jones says, adding with a smile, “and for those of us who pretend it’s just for the kids.” It’s also the store’s most recognizable landmark—an indoor Ferris wheel among merchandise.

Scheels will also offer food in a first-class delicatessen named Gramma Ginna’s Restaurant and Fudge Shop. When founder Frederick A. Scheel began his business, he offered a few food items made from his wife’s recipes. That same flavor will be incorporated in gourmet soups and sandwiches, roasted almonds, 24 flavors of homemade fudge and gelato. Starbucks coffee will also be served.

“Our store will include a complete service shop,” Jones adds. “Bike repairs, skate sharpening, and ski and snowboard tuning and waxing—in addition to racquet stringing—will all be among the services we’ll offer.”

A Perfect Match
The economic impact of the new store in Sandy could be huge. Jones says she will likely hire as many as 450–500 employees, with at least 175 working full-time.

Sandy City was chosen as home for the company’s newest store after an exhaustive search. Steve D. Scheel, great grandson of founder Frederick Scheel, “has been studying the market in Salt Lake City for 10–12 years,” Jones says. “It fits our business model; Utah is an area with four seasons, a market full of outdoor enthusiasts—the kind of people that love our stores. It makes for a good employee base as well—people who are passionate about the sports we cater to—and it allows them to work in a field that they love.”

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan says, “We feel like they aren’t just bringing a business to the community—it’s more like a partnership.” He notes that Scheels is committed to the communities they come to. As an example, Jones has lived in Utah for over a year, even without a store to manage, and has gotten involved with the local chamber of commerce and the city’s tourism committee.

Scheels is located in an area known as the One14 shopping development. With the opening of the 11400 South I-15 interchange a few years ago, that area of Sandy has seen a boom of development.

“We were delighted when they announced that they’d come here,” Dolan says. “We look at the store as being a catalyst for a lot of other development in that area.”

Scheels estimates the store will have 3 million visitors a year, with estimated sales of more than $100 million. That would make the store Sandy’s second-largest retail generator, behind Costco.

The company opened its first superstore in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1989, and now has stores in 10 states—North Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Nevada and, of course, Utah. Scheels is an employee-owned, privately held business.

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