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USA Today this morning reports that Dick's Sporting Goods, buoyed by strong performance during the pandemic linked to people's desire to work out at home since gyms were closed, has just opened a new format store in Rochester, New York, designed to be more experiential in nature.

Dick's House of Sports, the story says, "will focus on giving customers a hands-on shopping experience. The store will include an outdoor field for sporting events, a rock-climbing wall, and indoor wellness spaces. It'll also give consumers an opportunity to seek advice from fitness experts who can help them choose equipment and get more out of their workout routines.

"In fact, the goal is really to create a fitness community of sorts -- one that appeals to consumers and makes them want to visit. A second store is in the works for Knoxville, Tennessee, and Dick's expects to have it open in May."

USA Today goes on:  "In an age when so many consumers have shifted to online shopping, offering a unique in-store experience could really work to Dick's advantage. After all, getting to watch product demos or sample equipment can't easily be mimicked on a laptop -- so consumers may be more motivated to leave their homes and head to Dick's despite having gotten used to pointing and clicking their way to different purchases."

KC's View:

No matter what kind of retailer you are, if you want people to get off their couches and away from their computers and actually come to the store, you have to offer them something different than they can get in an online experience.

That seems fairly elementary, but there are a lot of retailers out there that don't embrace the challenge and opportunity of creating fundamentally different experiences as a way of being competitive.  In the food business, which can be highly sensory, there is no excuse for not using this advantage to get people into the store.