• Retail Dive

Wilson launches pop-up store and tennis museum in NYC

Dive Brief:

  • As it expands its direct-to-consumer push, Wilson Sporting Goods on Thursday opened a pop-up retail store and tennis museum in New York's SoHo neighborhood.

  • Launching ahead of the U.S. Open, the museum looks at Wilson's own history in tennis, including major milestones such as the first interracial tennis match in 1940, set up by Wilson.

  • The retail side features apparel from Wilson's new sportswear venture and equipment, including limited editions and exclusive items. It also includes racket customization and interactive features such as tennis ball art and apparel personalization. The second floor of the location is devoted to events and tournament viewing.

Dive Insight:

After more than a century of selling sporting goods, Wilson opened its first permanent physical retail store just last month in Chicago, where the brand is headquartered.

As with the museum and pop-up, that store's aim is to woo customers with limited-edition products, tight curation, in-store technology and aesthetics. The store, just 2,247 square feet, followed an expansion of the brand's direct-to-consumer business that it announced earlier in the year.

At the time of the announcement, the company signaled that there would be more to come. "Wilson will continue its direct-to-consumer expansion opening flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, Beijing and Shanghai in the coming months," the company said.

The DTC push also comes as Wilson tries to expand the reach and influence of its brand beyond sporting equipment. In May, Wilson announced a new lifestyle apparel line, a first for the brand. The initial collection, dubbed The Starting Lineup, launched with products including jogging bottoms, baseball tees and sweatshirts, among other garb.

Wilson may be taking a page out of the playbook of other athletic brands. Both Nike and Adidas are expanding their DTC push and cutting out retail partners from their wholesale business in the process.

As for Wilson's pop-up museum and store in SoHo, the brand indicated there is more to come. "The Wilson Pop-Up Museum is just the beginning for the long-standing leader in sporting goods in New York," the company said. "At the museum, Wilson will exhibit the stories of additional sports ventures in the coming months, all leading up to the grand opening of the NYC Wilson Flagship Store later this year. "

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