Major national sports store fills Fashion Center hole SanTan Sun News

Major national sports store fills Fashion Center hole

June 9th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Major national sports store fills Fashion Center hole
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By GARY NELSON
Contributor

One of the two vacant big-box stores at Chandler Fashion Center is getting a new tenant in 2023.

Scheel’s, a sporting-goods chain based in Fargo, N.D., plans to open a 220,000-square-foot store in the space formerly occupied by a Nordstrom department store.

Nordstrom’s, on the north end of the mall, closed in 2020, blaming the COVID pandemic for a lack of customers. It was the second anchor store to leave the 20-year-old mall; the first was Sears, an iconic retailer still dealing with fallout from its 2018 bankruptcy.

In Nordstrom’s place, Scheel’s will encompass 75 separate shops with merchandise for virtually every kind of team and individual sport.

A typical Scheel’s store is something of a tourist attraction and the one in Chandler will come with a 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, a “wildlife mountain,” arcade games and a restaurant.

Scheel’s operates 29 stores, with another opening this fall in Montana. The Chandler outlet is its first in Arizona.

“Scheel’s’ entrance into the Chandler market speaks volumes about the dynamic retail environment and vibrant quality of life in Chandler,” Mayor Kevin Hartke said in a press release. “Chandler Fashion Center continues … to cement itself as a premier shopping, culinary and entertainment destination.”

Scheel’s CEO Steve M. Scheel said the company studied the Phoenix market for several years before deciding to locate here.

Its closest Valley competitor in terms of scale and style is likely to be Bass Pro Shops in Mesa’s Riverview shopping area. Bass, however, focuses on outdoor sports such as fishing, hunting and boating.

The arrival of Bass in Mesa about 15 years ago was accompanied by major controversy.

To lure Bass and other retailers, Mesa agreed to forego about $80 million in city taxes and fees, in hopes that overall revenue from Riverview would eventually bolster the city’s economy.

Opponents of the deal forced a referendum; Mesa voters approved the incentive package in May 2005 by a 56-44 percent margin.

In contrast, Chandler spokeswoman Stephanie Romero said, the city offered no tax breaks to Scheel’s.

Edyie McCall, Chandler’s economic development manager, said the arrival of Scheel’s speaks to the overall strength of the city’s economy.

“Chandler has pro-actively attracted high wage jobs, which allows for disposable income to be spent in our retail venues, making Chandler an attractive location for Scheel’s,” McCall said. “Scheel’s is a premier destination retailer, which will draw visitors to Chandler Fashion Center, strengthening the mall and surrounding retail environment.”

Chandler Fashion Center is owned by Macerich Co., whose president, Ed Coppola, said the store “will be a great amenity for this family-friendly market.”

Scheel’s expects to employ about 400 people in Chandler.

The first Scheel’s store opened in 1902 in Sabin, Minn., financed by $300 that German immigrant Frederick A. Scheel had earned from harvesting three acres of potatoes. Eventually, sporting goods replaced hardware as the company’s primary line of business.

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