Sports Authority gets ready for Aug. 2 opening at Bellis Fair

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 27, 2013 

Bellingham Sports Authority

Madi Coulthurst makes some final adjustments to a recently assembled mannequin Thursday, July 25, 2013, in Sports Authority's new location at Bellis Fair Mall. The national sporting goods chain is set to open August 2 in the space previously held by Sears.

DANIEL PICKARD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

It took around five years of looking, but Sports Authority is now ready to open a store in Bellingham.

The company plans a soft opening at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2, for its 49,000-square-foot store in the former Sears space at Bellis Fair mall. Once open, regular store hours will be 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

While the store offers a wide variety of sports equipment, clothing and shoes, it has a big focus on team sports, said Bellingham store manager Jeff Robertson. The Bellingham store will have separate sections for a variety of team sports, including baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse and basketball.

In early October the store plans to have a hockey section as well. Robertson said that based on community feedback they've received, there's strong demand for hockey equipment.

The store also has a section devoted to cleats, which is separate from the shoe section. It also divides the team sports products into men, women and youth sections to make it easier to find, Robertson said.

He noted that Sports Authority focuses on equipment for recreational athletes and youth sports, not high-end products.

There also will be a separate yoga equipment and clothing area, as well as for camping and outdoors.

The one area that won't be a store specialty is hunting and fishing; Robertson said this region is already well-represented with stores that have hunting and fishing gear, so they want to devote most of the store's space to team and outdoor sports.

The company had been looking at this area to add a store for the past five years, but wanted the best location possible. Sports Authority does not have stores in Canada, so it could be a popular spot for British Columbia shoppers. The local market is considered important, and the company plans to partner with local organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County.

The company started remodeling the space soon after Sears closed in January. Sports Authority will have two spaces totaling about 31,000 square feet of leftover space that it plans to sublease.

The original plan was to have the store open this fall, but the company decided to go with a more aggressive remodeling schedule to open in time for back-to-school and the start of fall sports. Robertson said back-to-school is something they feature at the store; they offer 150 styles of school backpacks to go with its children's shoes and clothing.

For its grand opening celebration starting 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, Sports Authority will have a variety of events, including giving away "mystery bucks" to the first 250 people, gift card giveaways and a visit from celebrities, including Vancouver Canucks' defenseman Jason Garrison from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

NEW THRIFT STORE AIMS FOR BOUTIQUE FEEL

A new thrift store in downtown Bellingham is collecting vintage items to benefit local nonprofits.

Dearbhla (pronounced "Dervla") O'Leary recently opened 'Hamsters Thrift Boutique at 1051 N. State St., next to Pepper Sisters. The thrift store is 100 percent donation based, with all of the profits benefiting a local nonprofit each quarter. Through the end of September, the nonprofit is Whatcom Hospice House.

The space had previously been a thrift store that benefited the hospice house, but that store closed in May. O'Leary believed it was still a viable business, and decided to step in, did some remodeling and opened at the end of June. She knows Bellingham has quite a few nonprofits that need funding, so she decided to rotate the nonprofit each quarter.

"It's been great to see the return of people who used to stop in regularly (when it was the previous business)," O'Leary said.

The store is broken into several smaller rooms for customers to wander through. So far, the store is receiving a lot of vintage books and women's clothing. It also has a large selection of records and children's clothes. O'Leary tries to be picky about what she will sell, because she wants the store to be known as a thrift boutique.

Business has started off well, although foot traffic has slowed because of nearby street construction, she said.

The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. For more information, or to nominate a local nonprofit to receive the store's profits, visit the store's Facebook page.

OTHER TIDBITS

• Bellingham's Honey Moon is bringing one of its products to the retail market. The tasting room in the alley off of North State Street has started bottling its CiderHead hard apple cider. It is made from apples and juice provided by BelleWood Acres, with no added sugars. Starting next week, CiderHead will be sold at The Market stores in Bellingham (on Lakeway Drive) and in Birch Bay. Within the next few weeks, CiderHead will be at local Haggen stores. It is also currently being sold at BelleWood Acres, Community Food Co-op, Cornwall Corner Store, Elizabeth Station, Honey Moon and Old World Deli.

Donette Studio has closed its facility at 4165 Hannegan Road. The studio started in Bellingham in 1965 and specialized in wedding photography and portraits. A phone message seeking details was not returned late last week.

• A state liquor license application was filed for 7714 Birch Bay Drive, in the Grand Bay Condominium facility. The business name is Will'O Pub & Café and the applicants are Andrew and Stacy Weightman.

• A liquor license application also was filed for 655 Front St., Suite 10, in Lynden, for a business called Chandara House. The restaurant liquor license application was filed by Wankanok Hurd.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his business blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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