“Realizing the exponential growth in our kids’ categories across Sport Chek, we believe Sport Chek Kids is a great opportunity to showcase all our kids product in one location while bringing a completely tailored shopping experience for kids to our Sport Chek fleet,” said Kara Anastasiadis, Associate Vice President, Purchasing of FGL Sports. “Above all, we are excited to champion the healthy, active lifestyles of the younger generation in a store built just for them,” she added.
The store, located at Vaughan Mills near Toronto, spans about 6,930 square feet on one level. It caters to children from infant up to the age of 14, according to Ms. Anastasiadis, with a goal of creating a one-stop shipping experience for families that are looking to have kids active with a variety of activities.
Special kid-focused features include lowered footwear benches, cash desks, floor fixtures and inclusive, kid-sized mannequins.
The store, which has 22 staff dedicated to providing knowledge and personalized service to kids and their parents, is laid out in a ‘shop-by-activity’ configuration that offers targeted shopping areas based on activity of choice — be it hockey, running, swimming or other sports. Included is an expansive assortment of kids apparel, footwear and gear from top brands and new, unique brands, according to the company. The store boasts the largest footwear wall and preschool and toddler apparel selection available in the entire Sport Chek network.
“With Sport Chek Kids, our goal is to get kids active. Reaching out to kids through this new concept store was really important in making sure each child to young teen feels confident and well equipped with the right gear,” said Trish McFarlane, AVP, Visual Customer Experience of FGL Sports. “When designing this store, we worked with kids and their parents to ask them what store features were most important to them in the shopping experience to ensure we built a store that made them feel proud and comfortable.
Sport Chek has seen tremendous growth in its kids business, according to Ms. Anastasiadis, and learnings from the new Vaughn store may be used to enhance offerings in other Sport Chek stores. It’s also possible that more kids-only Sport Chek locations could open in Canada, though the company’s focus will be first on perfecting the Vaughan concept.
The location makes sense — Vaugahn is located in a suburban part of the Greater Toronto Area that includes many families with children, and the area is growing rapidly as new homes continue to be built in the area. Vaughn Mills is one of three ‘hybrid outlet centres’ that is operated by landlord Ivanhoé Cambridge — others are in suburban Calgary (CrossIron Mills) and Vancouver (Tsawwassen Mills). The massive Vaughan Mills, which spans almost 1.3 million square feet, sees more than 14-million annual visitors and is one of Canada’s most productive centres, according to Retail Council of Canada’s Shopping Centre Study.
This isn’t the first time that Sport Chek has opened a store dedicated to a specific target market — in the spring of 2017, the retailer launched its first women’s-only store at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary. The 16,675 square foot store was “designed for women by women” according to Ms. Anastasiadis, and merchandise there is organized by activity in a similar fashion to the new Kid's store. The women's store also has a different “feel” from traditional Sport Chek stores, and offers unique services such as one-on-one bra fittings, dedicated personal shopper, and a ‘Community Manager’ who can connect shoppers with local studios, classes, and information pertaining to brand launches and other initiatives.
Sport Chek operates a network of more than 200 stores across the country, in a variety of formats in a range of sizes — some stores are on the smaller side, while some are flagships spanning as much as 80,000 square feet. Parent company FGL Sports, which is headquartered in Calgary, is part of the larger Canadian Tire corporate ownership umbrella.
Innovation at FGL Sports comes at a critical time for sports retailers in Canada, as competition heats up from homegrown as well as new international entrants. The world’s largest sports retailer, France-based Decathlon, recently opened its first store in Canada in suburban Montreal and has already announced a second superstore in Quebec City. MEC Continues to open new and replacement stores in Canada, while companies such as Sportium and SAIL are also expanding their networks of Canadian stores.