Champs Sports is making a major statement with its newest store.
On April 1 the sports retailer quietly opened the doors to Champs Sports Homefield, a 35,000-square-foot store in Pembroke Pines, Fla., offering a wide range of experiences and expanded product categories.
The store is the largest of any within the Foot Locker Inc. family, its parent, and will serve as a prototype for future Champs Sports units.
Champs concentrates primarily on young athletes and Homefield offers them a supersized group of experiences targeted to them, but this store is expected to appeal to older shoppers as well. Its grand opening is set for April 22.
The store features a basketball court, a digital VR experience that mimics a Combine, a smoothie bar and a health and wellness department. There’s also a larger assortment of apparel and sneakers for a wide range of sports including running, weight training, and yoga, as well as equipment. Top brands include Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Jordan Brand as well as private labels Eastbay Performance, CSG and Cozi.
“This is brand new for us and is the biggest Foot Locker Inc. store on the planet,” said Guy Harkless, senior vice president and general manager of Champs Sports and Eastbay. “But we felt we needed it as a solution for the modern athlete.” Homefield is intended to serve the “whole life journey” of its customers, he added, not just sell product.
The average Champs Sports store measures 5,500 square feet, about the same size as the 5,000 square feet dedicated to true performance product in the center of Homefield. That includes cleats for a variety of sports along with basketball and running shoes.
Although all of Champs’ 500-plus stores offer performance product, the store sells a number of new footwear brands including Brooks, Hoka and Asics, he said, along with 2XU training apparel and sunglasses and visors from Oakley to complement the Nike, Under Armour and New Balance assortment.
Homefield also offers “a ton of new categories,” he said. “We don’t sell protein powders in normal Champs stores.”
The store’s half-court basketball court will allow visitors to shoot baskets and work on their ball-handling skills and will also be the spot for yoga or HIIT classes, he said.
The smoothie bar will serve ReFuel Your Game with Smoothie 123, and the 2,500-square-foot health and wellness area features nutritional and recovery foods and products such as “muscle foods” from GNC, Harkless said, as well as recovery guns from Hyperice and recovery sandals from Oofos.
But he is perhaps most excited about the Combine Digital VR Experience, a two-sided 8-by-13-foot digital screen that will measure height, jumping ability, agility, reaction time and other metrics measured at traditional Combine events.
“It’s unique to this store,” Harkless said. Since Homefield opened, the response has been “fantastic” to this experience. “It’s a way to have a little fun, but also compete with others,” he said, adding that a leaderboard where participants are ranked can also create a “shareable moment” on social media.
“We’ve always served the athlete — that’s the core of the Champs business,” he said. “But we are evolving as the customer has evolved so we built this box to be more purposeful and offer them everything they need to compete in life and on the field of play.”
The location in Florida was chosen for the large number of high schools in the area and its good weather year-round. And while the target may be school-age kids, the store should appeal to any active and athletic consumer, he said.
Since opening, he said results have been “better than expected.” Foot traffic has been robust and consumers are responding to the basketball court, which has become “the epicenter for individuals and families.” The sale of cleated products has also exceeded projections, he said.
The store is also embracing the community through its Wall of Game, which will induct six people who have made a positive contribution to local sports in the Pembroke Pines area.
Although the size of most Champs stores will restrict them from replicating the experiences offered in Homefield, Harkless said the company will take the “learnings” from the store and apply them to others in the fleet.
While he said no other Homefield stores are planned for right now, he said it will be the first of “several — or many — we’ll start to deploy across the U.S.” It will “influence our core stores” and also help the company further develop its direct-to-consumer strategy. “The consumer is looking to be served in a new way,” he said.