If the sight of two bears (the kind that a taxidermist has prepared) wrestling over the carcass of a reindeer doesn't make you want to dig out the camo, then the new Field & Stream store in Cranberry might not be the place to go this week.
The newest specialty retail prototype from Findlay retailer Dick's Sporting Goods will be holding its grand opening on Cranberry Square Drive off Route 19 this weekend, even as it quietly opens to customers today, giving southwestern Pennsylvania shoppers the first look at this latest niche offering.
The 50,000-square-foot, converted Dick's store has shed its track-and-fitness feel in favor of lush hunting lodge decor, with a massive stone fireplace in the entryway. More mounted animals adorn the walls and even a mountainscape in the back of the store, which sits next to the men's boots department.
Do they allow customers to test those boots on the fake mountain? "We do not," said Jack Barnes, general merchandise manager of the Field & Stream operation, with a laugh.
They do, however, have an enclosed room to give customers a chance to try out the archery equipment by shooting at a fake deer about 20 yards away.
Dick's has been trying to create growth vehicles by developing specialty stores that go broader and deeper into the brands and services that particular enthusiasts want. Last year, the company opened its first True Runner store in Shadyside, promising to help runners get the right shoes and even organizing events for them. Dick's also owns the Golf Galaxy chain, even though it also carries golf equipment in its namesake sporting goods stores.
Similarly, Dick's stores carry sleeping bags and fishing rods, but they don't offer nearly as many choices as the Field & Stream store. "This has a broader assortment," said Mr. Barnes, as he walked through a fishing department that had a separate area devoted just to fly fishing needs.
Mr. Barnes, who said the team had been working about six months on the details of the prototype, said the next few months will be a learning period where they'll get a better sense of what passionate hunters, anglers and other outdoor types want.
"I think we're excited to learn what the format does for us," he said.
Dick's had been licensing the rights to the Field & Stream name for several years when it agreed last year to buy the intellectual property rights to the brand in the hunting, fishing, camping and paddle categories.
Those are all areas with fans willing to spend. In 2011, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunters, anglers and wildlife-recreationists spent $145 billion. The agency calculated that more than 37 million Americans were involved in fishing or hunting or both. On average, each sportsperson spent $2,407 in 2011.
Other national players in the retail space include Bass Pro Shops, which has considered putting a store in Western Pennsylvania but not opened one yet; REI, which has two stores in the Pittsburgh area; and Cabela's, which has one of its signature megastores along Interstate 70 just across the Pennsylvania line in West Virginia.
Cabela's, based in Sidney, Neb., is rolling out a smaller, 40,000-square-foot store. One appeared to be planned for the Millcreek Marketplace in Erie, where Cabela's has filed suit complaining that it had invested several hundred thousand dollars in work toward building a store there only to be told another party had taken the site.
A Field & Stream store is now planned for that location, in addition to another planned for a Kentucky site.
Mr. Barnes said the Dick's Field & Stream concept is not coming in response to a competitor's efforts. "I would say this was for us more about coming up with a specialty format," he said.
Teresa F. Lindeman: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412-263-2018.