Sport Chek’s newest flagship store in downtown Vancouver opens today and it knocks its previous now-closed location at Pacific Centre out of the ballpark.
The three-storey, 54,000-square-foot store takes over the space previously occupied by Chapters at the southeast corner of Robson and Howe streets. And it is certainly a store that will impress shoppers: It is worthy of its location, everything about this store is bold and futuristic.
Upon walking through the doors, past the big red ‘chek’ outside, visitors enter the bookstore’s old glass atrium and facade that was retained through the year-long renovations. Looking up from the atrium, LED ribbon screens wrap the rims of the second and third floor plates to provide sports fans with ticker-type animated updates on the latest major league sports scores.
Art pieces that carry either a Vancouver or sporting theme are found on all levels, including power rings on the ceiling of the atrium, a 3D model of downtown Vancouver’s buildings, and a large collage-type 3D mural of sporting goods next to the escalator to the third floor.
Digital screens are also scattered everywhere in this store. There are motion-activated wall screens that provide customer information, interactive touch-screen video walls, and a radio-frequency identification (RFID) enabled footwear screen wall that provides a detailed shoe description and benefits when a shopper places a shoe next to the screen.
There is even a virtual golf department identifies a golfer’s skills and abilities and a Medical Motion Gait Analysis machine that analyzes an individual’s biomechanics to pair them with the appropriate running footwear.
A wide collection of major sporting league jerseys are available, complemented by the ability to immediately create a customized jersey on touch screens. The in-store microfactory system fabricates the jersey while visitors continue with their shopping.
But the most impressive high-tech features are the 3-D hologram and interactive translucent product displays to showcase certain products, particularly accessories and footwear.
Sizeable shops-within-shops for top brands are found inside the store, including Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Fitbit, and GoPro. A service shop encased in glass walls provides a ‘theatre’ for technicians to service all sorts of equipment such as bicycles.
A training club at the store, operated as a partnership with the University of British Columbia, offers training clubs conducted by coaches to assist local athletes with improving their performance through comprehensive, full-body conditioning, practices, and exercises to boost stamina, strength, gait balance and agility.
The Robson store is Sport Chek’s fifth flagship location. Other flagship stores are located at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Mississauga’s Square One, Edmonton’s West Edmonton Mall, and Burnaby’s Metropolis at Metrotown, which was extensively renovated in 2014.
“Building on the success of one of Sport Chek’s first flagship stores in Metrotown, Burnaby, we are excited to bring our second stadium of sport to the GVA,” said Chad McKinnon, Chief Operating Officer of FGL Sports, Sport Chek’s parent company, in a statement. “This store has been designed specifically for athletes in the community that share a passion for sport and activity, and are looking for the best products delivered in an immersive, inspiring environment.”
The new store officially opens this Thursday, but there will be a soft opening beginning later today. It employs 265 people and is 23,000 square feet larger than the old Pacific Centre space; Sport Chek vacated the shopping centre location last year to make way for a major expansion of the Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver flagship store.
Meanwhile, Indigo Books is still looking for a large replacement flagship bookstore location for the downtown Vancouver market. Following the closure of Chapters Robson, the company opened a small temporary store last year within Aldo’s old space on Granville Street near Robson Street.