Dick's plans new outdoor concept, Public Lands, for 2021 launch

Nov. 25, 2020 retaiL DIVE

Dive Brief:

  • Dick's has a new outdoor concept in the works, dubbed "Public Lands," that is set to open two stores in the second half of next year, outgoing CEO Ed Stack told analysts on a conference call.

  • The stores, planned for Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio, will take over Field & Stream stores in those citues, Stack said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

  • "We think there's a real opportunity from people getting outdoors, camp, hike, bike, kayaking, fishing," said Stack, who will be focusing largely on the concept as he transitions to his new role as executive chairman and chief merchant.

Dive Insight:

Dick's has been working on the Public Lands concept prior to the spread of COVID-19 as the sporting goods retailer exits its Field & Stream banner, and the hunting and firearms category more broadly. Stack described it as a "real growth vehicle," that he will help spearhead as he transitions to his new role at the retailer. The sporting goods retailer just launched two clearance-based store concepts in June.

Its name reflects its focus, the company's chief said. "We think it's important to protect our public lands, to protect the environment," Stack said. "And this concept will really be focused on that."

An outdoor concept with a stated concern for the environment calls up REI, Patagonia and others in the space. Both of those retailers have been active in pushing for various environmental causes through advertising or other initiatives. Perhaps anticipating that comparison, Stack specifically said that the concept would "be different than what you would see with REI and carve out a different niche."

At the moment, Dick's is planning the concept for real estate it already owns, with Stack saying that the architecture of its Field & Stream stores "works very well with this outdoor concept."

But the concept will expand Dick's merchandising around the outdoors. "[O]ur camping category is we're really a bit more backyard camping if you will kind of day camping," Stack said. "This will be much more elevated."

He added that the overlap between Dick's current outdoor products and what Public Lands will house is about 20% or less. "[T]his will be more elevated equipment, apparel, footwear at elevated price points with elevated brands, elevated service," he said of merchandising at the new banner.

As of February, Dick's had 27 Field & Stream stores, after selling off eight last year, which could in theory be converted to the new concept. Since the Parkland, Florida, shooting in 2018, when it opted to pull assault rifles from Field & Stream, Dick's has been backing off of gun sales. Since then, it has started pulling guns (and the hunting category more broadly) from hundreds of stores across its footprint.

And so as the retailer retreats from firearms, it is switching its outdoor focus from hunters to campers, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiasts. While Stack said the concept was in development prior to the pandemic, social distancing has boosted sales of outdoor and camping equipment as consumers seek to travel but try to stay outside for safety

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