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Big and bold, Scheels to open in Utah Sept. 29 (with video)
Retailing » Sporting goods store features Ferris wheel amid its fare.
First Published Sep 06 2012 01:36 pm • Last Updated Sep 08 2012 01:15 pm

It’s big. It’s bright and airy. And it can accommodate up to 4,000 shoppers.

On Thursday, Scheels managers showed off their new 220,000-square-foot mega-sporting goods store, under construction for 18 months alongside Interstate 15 in Sandy, and now scheduled to open Sept. 29. An invitation-only opening for VIPs is set for the night of Sept. 28.

At a glance

A few facts about Scheels

Opens: Sept. 29

Address: 11282 S. State St., Sandy

Size: 220,000 square feet

Employees: 443; more expected later

Materials used include 800 tons of brick, 350 cubic yards of mortar, 250 miles of wire and data cable, 2,952 gallons of paint

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"We like to say we don’t sell anything that is necessary. We sell fun," said Dan Hermanson, a youthful Minnesotan and assistant store leader, who led a tour of the building. Hermanson made the comment as he pointed out a 16-car Ferris wheel rising 65 feet into the air toward an 11,000-square-foot skylight. Rides are $1.

It was hard to know how seriously to take his remark. Although there were plenty of things to gaze at in wonder — a 16,000-gallon double-arched salt water aquarium, a canary-yellow seaplane diving from the ceiling toward the boating department, and a huge man-made rocky outcrop studded with stuffed grizzlies, wolves, bighorn sheep and other game animals are examples — the store clearly is set up to sell lots and lots of merchandise.

Karen Jones, the store leader, says there is no demographic target, for the store, which in size covers more space than Cabela’s Utah location but less than the nearby IKEA. Scheels is set up to attract almost anyone who likes to hunt, fish, play golf, toss a Frisbee, paddle a kayak, pedal a bike, shoot an arrow, waterski, snow ski, snowshoe, train a dog, grill a steak, toss a football or watch birds through a pair of binoculars — and look good doing it.

"We add another element, and that’s fashion," Jones said.

Hermanson and Jones have been with Scheels a long time, and both are adept at fielding questions about the company’s business model. Asked where Scheels fits into the spectrum of outdoor and sports retailers, from Cabela’s to REI, Sportsmans Warehouse to Dick’s Sporting Goods, both say its rivals are purveyors of entry-level gear or ultra-high-end retailers.

"We are a one-stop shop," Hermanson said.

Founded in 1902 as a hardware and general store business, family-owned Scheels is based in Fargo, N.D. It moved into the sporting good business in the 1980s, and today operates 24 stores in the upper Midwest and West. Some are small — the Waterloo, Iowa, store occupies just 16,000 square feet, which isn’t much larger than the Sandy store’s skylight. Others are huge. Scheels’ store in Sparks, Nev., has 295,000 square feet of floor space — almost seven acres.

The Sandy store has 443 employees; about one-third are full time. Hiring has stopped for awhile, but is expected to pick up later in the year. Jones thinks the workforce will exceed 500 by next spring.

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