No Surprise, Sports Authority Teeters on Bankruptcy

Sports Authority misses interest payment

Update. Since this post was written, Sports Authority has since filed for bankruptcy protection…

Sports Authority, the Englewood, Colorado based sporting goods apparel and equipment mega-store has missed an interest payment on debt and bankruptcy is rumored. I can’t say this news surprises me.

What blows me away is that they are in the two hottest sectors of the apparel and footwear industries, athletic apparel and sneakers and couldn’t capitalize on it. We are in a multi-year athleisure trend, the wearing of sports apparel in and out of the gym, disrupting casual apparel and knocking even the venerable jeans business down a peg or two.

What’s wrong at Sports Authority?

Sports Authority is a big store with an enormous selection of sporting goods and apparel. The stores are dimly lit and cavernous, sort of like a warehouse club without the bright lighting, wide aisles and good deals. A visit to Sports Authority means walking long distances through a sea of me-too sweats and hoodies. There are no clear paths or sight lines. They are located in suburban settings, not particularly convenient for those key Millennial shoppers without easy transportation.

For a carrying products that consumers use in the happiest times of their lives, this store is seriously, no fun. They have tons of stuff, allowing little room for discovery. Great retail is emotional theater and Sports Authority falls flat. Bad music, poor lighting, safe selections, old technology and no creative displays. You are on a self-guided tour of a depressing warehouse. They try to be everything to everybody. They are water on the camp fire.

They could benefit from about 50% less SKUS and some focus on the hottest lines and equipment. Too much inventory and no foot traffic = missed loan payment. This store gives equal billing to down-trending golf product as red-hot sneaker lines. Their relatively small sneaker assortment in relation to their size, abdicates the business to mall competitors like Champs and Foot Locker.

The apparel assortment is the retail equivalent of safe-sex, run of the mill products from most of the usual suspects. Why not take a chance on some of the upstart creative athletic brands, mostly found online? Why not an area for discovery of new brands? How about some exclusives? Champion looks way better at Target. “Move on folks, nothing to see here.”

Where’s the creativity to drive traffic? How about fitness demonstrations, classes and athlete appearances? Healthy free snacks? Basketball half-court? Equipment testing areas? Contests? New lighting?  Hip music? You get the picture. Give up some SKUS to free up the dollars for the fun quotient. Tug at my emotions.

All retailers exist in a highly competitive environment today. Consumers are seeking the best experiences for their dollar. Whether it is a simple transaction on Amazon or a red-carpet experience at Neiman’s. They seek rewarding and entertaining retail experiences.

Bauer “Own The Moment” Experience Store

Sadly for Sports Authority, today was the day I decided to visit the new Own The Moment Hockey Experience Store by Bauer (Performance Sports Group, Exeter, NH), in Burlington, MA. My advice to any hockey store within a 100 mile radius, it’s time to retire. This store is state-of-the art retail theater at it’s finest. I see a lot of retail stores and this one takes my breath away. In fact, I just may learn to skate.

There is a huge selection of thoughtfully placed equipment and apparel in beautiful displays with spot halogen lighting. Halogen has a way of making things more precious. It’s like a futuristic hockey museum, with wide spacious aisles from front to back and in between. Everything is precisely displayed. You are intrigued to wander around corners, each area more enticing than the last.  In addition to a big open video viewing area, they even have an in-store ice rink for testing the latest equipment. They offer everything hockey for men, women and kids.

They truly capture the powerful athleticism of the sport. The testosterone soaked displays, images and edgy mannequins, got my heart racing. Who is that bearded guy anyway? Who knew hockey equipment could be so damn compelling?

A destination to visit, this store is an outstanding example of retail as entertainment.

The Dix & Pond Blog is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting,  a Boston-based, company that consults on trend and creative direction, brand experience and business strategy, product development, merchandising and provides executive coaching for retail, apparel, footwear & consumer products companies.  CONTACT US TODAY!  or call 617.733.7411

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4 Hot Home Decor Trends for 2016-2017

There are four big trends in home textiles and hard home for 2016-2017. I call them “Craft”, “World View”, “Fresh Take” and “Silver Mining”.

Consumers value things that are authentic and have a sense of handcrafted individuality in an tech-obsessed world. These tactile, handmade, hand-embroidered, washed and deconstructed, bed linens, decorative pillows, throws, rugs and towels provide grounding, in a world filled with man-made anxiety. This crafted aesthetic carries over into storage baskets, lamps, vases, mirrors, trays and other hard home décor accessories.

In general home textiles are more casual in material or spirit, less refined and flat. Big soft home trends include “luxe-casual”, the combination of luxurious fabrics or materials combined in casual prints or with rustic weaves; copious textural mixing, embroidery, novelty decoration such as beading or applique and voluminous oversized knitting.

Important colors include the neutral white and ivories, pastels emerge, especially purples and pink, a full spectrum of blues and the continuance of grey as a key color for livable master bedrooms and baths.

Patterns include ethnic prints and geometrics, embroideries and tie-dye in casual, washed fabrics or rich, high-count textiles; sweet flower prints, floral embroideries and menswear looks.

Fabrics are dominated by casual natural 100% cotton, linen, rustic wools and mohair.

I expect these hot home textile and décor trends will continue well into 2017.

Craft Trend Home 2016 - Handmade, rustic and textural textiles and accessories

Craft Trend Home 2016 – Handmade, rustic and textural textiles and accessories

World View Trend Home 2016 - Boho and luxe ethnic and handcrafted textiles and accessories

World View Trend Home 2016 – Boho and luxe ethnic and handcrafted textiles and accessories

Fresh Take Trend Home 2016 - Feminine soft colors, textures and floral textiles and accessories

Fresh Take Trend Home 2016 – Feminine soft colors, textures and floral textiles and accessories

Silver Mining Trend Home 2016 - Grey colors and textures from crafted to metallic textiles and accessories

Silver Mining Trend Home 2016 – Grey colors and textures from crafted to metallic textiles and accessories

 

You might enjoy these other posts:

4 Big Trends in Bath Decor 2016-2017

Simple Holiday Home Decor 2016-17

Tough Retail: 7 Ways to Grow Your Consumer Brand

 

 

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on business strategy, creative direction, brand experience, trends, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

Thank you for sharing with a friend, if you enjoyed the post! 

How to Increase Traffic & Conversions on Your Ecommerce Website

Most ecommerce companies say they their number one goal is to increase visitor traffic and conversions.

The Internet is enormously competitive and crowded today. BTC and BTB ecommerce companies need to be doing everything possible to be found in searches and from online and offline marketing techniques. This is equally important for startups, established brands and long time retail websites.

Some startup entrepreneurs have a great looking website and are surprised by how few sales they are making. They frantically wonder, “How can I get more viewers to my site?” Some retailers have been selling online for years and see visits to their site down trending and bounces rising. They are in panic mode asking “Why is my site getting less traffic and conversions? Should we be trying new marketing strategies or a redesign?”

There are many things you can do to improve your traffic. Here is an eight point checklist on the best ways to increase visits to your fashion apparel, accessory, footwear, home or consumer product site. CLICK TO READ THE CHECKLIST.

How to increase your web traffic

The Dix & Pond Blog is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting,  a Boston-based, company that consults on business and brand strategy, product development, creative direction, merchandising and executive coaching for apparel, footwear, home & consumer products companies.

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post!  Follow me to get the latest posts!

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