May 30, 2013

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Sandy Welcomes Scheels

Doyle Smith

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Sandy Welcomes Scheels

More than Just a Store, Scheels Offers a Unique Take on Sporting and Recreation

John Coon

May 30, 2013

Shopping in a sporting goods store will never feel the same once you set foot inside Scheels, a mega-retailer that is unlike any other sporting goods store.

Few retail establishments in the world house a Ferris wheel and offer rides to shoppers for just $1 apiece. It is hard to find another store that greets customers with a 16,000-gallon aquarium fully stocked with a wide variety of tropical fish. Or one that offers everything from hunting and golf simulators to a restaurant serving cuisine created from wild game.

All of these things are trademark offerings from Scheels, and they make each store a huge draw in the community where it is built. That's one reason why Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan and other city officials battled so hard to introduce Scheels to Utah with a new store in Sandy.

Something for Everyone

Frederick A. Scheel built his first store, which offered hardware and general merchandise, in 1902. More than a century later, Scheels operates 23 stores in eight states. The newest store in Sandy features the same amenities which Scheels has made a fixture in its other stores.

Special attractions include a 65-foot tall Ferris wheel, a 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium and a 35-foot tall wildlife mountain. The Ferris wheel rises within 20 feet of the store roof and riders can enjoy views of the Wastach Mountains outside the store. The aquarium, located at the main store entrance, is 42 feet long, 14 feet tall and eight feet wide. It is serviced by a pump room that circulates the water four times per hour. And shoppers can enjoy a closer look at more than 300 stuffed wild animal species that dot the wildlife mountain.

Multiple sports simulators give customers the chance to test their skills in sports ranging from soccer to basketball. A golf simulator lets golfers test themselves on a simulation of any course in the world. Hunters can enjoy shooting galleries and a Buck Hunter shooting simulator.

History also comes alive in the store. Near the escalators and elevators, shoppers encounter fully animated facsimiles of U.S. presidents that offer up speeches whenever a person draws near. They can also learn about U.S. presidential history when they take a tour through the “Walk of Presidents,” which features life-size replicas of notable presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan.

No trip to Scheels is complete without checking out Gramma Ginna’s Deli and Fudge Shop, where customers can enjoy a variety of gourmet soups and sandwiches. They can also sample 24 flavors of homemade fudge and 18 flavors of gelato. The biggest highlight, however, is the chance to taste exotic dishes from wild game like elk or ostriches.

Scheels works hard to set itself apart from all other stores in the sporting goods market, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. Scheels CEO Steve Scheel has pulled out all the stops to create a place that appeals to all people—regardless of gender or age.

"He wanted to make sure we had something for everyone in the family,” says Karen Jones, manager for Scheels in Sandy. “And so we cater to children. We cater to women. We cater to men. We cater to all ages. And we want to entertain them while they are here. And it's worked. It's a fun place to be. With all the skylights and the sun shining in, the environment is just a pleasing place to even work."

Building Community

The new Scheels is providing an instant economic boost to Sandy. “It was very important to us to bring Scheels here,” Dolan says. “It anchors a huge new retail development for our community. We worked for 15 years to get the 114th South interchange created. It's proven now, with it opening, that we have a viable new retail development area that was sitting vacant for years.”

Dolan says Scheels is projected to bring in more than $100 million per year in retail sales. That will mean at least $1 million per year in new sales taxes for Sandy.

The 220,000-square-foot store will also add up to 450 new full-time and part-time jobs to the local job market. Scheels will also anchor a new retail center near the 11400 South interchange at Interstate 15. Dolan expects that it will turn the area into a thriving shopping district in a few short years and help to reshape the city.

"Because of its location, it's a catalyst for development between 11000 South and 11400 South,” Dolan says. “There will be a number of new restaurants that are not in the state of Utah that will be locating near there. Other businesses will be relocating with them because they draw approximately three million people per year to their stores.”

Setting down roots in Sandy is also a winning proposition for Scheels. It is not a corporation that makes a habit of randomly expanding into new markets. Careful planning goes into selecting a new store location.

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