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  Comments (2) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
Sportsman Takes Aim at Major Expansion
Kalispell store to add 30,000 square feet; Whitefish store gets total facelift
Construction continues at Sportsman & Ski Haus in Whitefish on Monday, Nov. 19, 2013. - Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon
When Sportsman and Ski Haus built its massive, 55,000-square-foot store in Kalispell in 2007, its management wondered if perhaps they'd overdone it a bit. Fifty-thousand square feet is a lot of space to fill, president David Harvey thought, and the other Sportsman location in Whitefish is already pretty popular.

"It was a big leap of faith to make it this big," Harvey said in an interview last week. "After year number one, our success here was so great that we were already sort of hitting ourselves in the head and thinking we didn't make it big enough."

Two years ago, Sportsman began to start planning a massive expansion for its Kalispell store, and now the plans have started coming to fruition. Crews have already poured the foundation that will expand the store's footprint to 75,000 square feet, and Harvey expects the additions to be in place by May 2014.

"Basically, the whole store needed room to grow," he said. "The sales per square foot in our store have been way bigger than the industry norms; practically everything we buy sells."

The total addition equals about 30,000 square feet, with 25,000 on the ground floor and around 4,000 square feet of additions to the offices on the second floor.

One of the biggest changes will be the addition of a golf section, which should take up about 3,000 square feet of the expansion, Harvey said.

Inquiries about a golf department have been the most common questions his sale associates on the floor deal with each summer, Harvey said, and summer after summer those customers would be told there wasn't one.

"They would look stunned," he said. "What do you mean this beautiful store in the middle of this golf mecca doesn't have a golf department?"

Sportsman decided to act on the demand, and the new golf department will have equipment from the country's top brands, but also a few extras, such as two state-of-the-art video golf sections where customers can play courses from around the world.

Harvey also said these systems would include programming to allow league play in the winter, in which local golfers can form teams and play other teams across the country via the Internet.

Sportsman hired John Cole, who previously owned Golf USA in Kalispell, to help them pioneer the expansion, Harvey said.

The store will also have a new archery department, with experts, equipment and a 20-yard shooting range.

Otherwise, most of the existing departments will get more room. Harvey said they've put considerable thought into how to expand these sections in a way that will maintain the feel of the store.

"Our mission when we built this store was to create a large, interesting sporting goods store that was big but didn't feel like a box store," he said. "We're maintaining that same philosophy into our expansion."

Expansion will also mean the store won't have to stop ordering items they know they could sell but don't have space for, he said.

Nick King, with Swank Enterprises, measures a sidewalk outside Sportsman & Ski Haus in Whitefish on Monday, Nov. 19, 2013 to determine how much concrete will be needed. - Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

"It was getting to the breaking point on that, so we were having to make uncomfortable decisions of not buying stuff we knew we could sell, but we didn't want to destroy how good we looked, merchandise-wise."

The company's Whitefish location is also getting a facelift, with an extensive remodel to spruce up the exterior of the store, which has been located at the Whitefish Mountain Mall for about 20 years.

Outdoor improvements will have similarities to the Kalispell store's architecture, and interior changes include new flooring, paint, additional dressing rooms, a new central entrance configuration and more efficient cash register stations.

The remodel will help the store's curb appeal, Harvey said, and should drive in more traffic. Even now, the store does pretty well, he said. Of the six stores in the Sportsman chain, the Whitefish location is ranked third in sales.

"Whitefish is a real neat little town, and there's a lot of local shopping loyalty that goes on there. As nice and big as our Kalispell store is, there are lots of people in Whitefish who religiously shop (at the Whitefish location)," Harvey said. "Providing them with a more comfortable, updated shopping experience was a big priority of ours."

All of the remodel projects in Whitefish should be finished in December.

The changes to both stores have been in the works for a while, he said, and just happened to coincide with the opening of the new Cabela's store in Kalispell. But that opening hasn't slowed Sportsman retail numbers, Harvey said, and he is confident in the sales projections supporting the expansion.

"The good news is that our sales have been just terrific since Cabela's moved in," he said. "We benefit from the traffic as does everyone else up here."
On 11-28-13, mooseberryinn commented....
Bass pro shops have great deals on “Tracker” boats, motors, trailers.  I’ve looked at such around here, but they’re just way too pricy. Hopefully Sportsman’s will expand their gun dept. to include black powder replicas.
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