Why Dick's New Store Geared Toward Women Makes Business Sense

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Lauren Hobart, Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, Dick's Sporting Goods, helped launch the Chelsea Collective.

When Dick's Sporting Goods announced the launch of its specialty fitness boutiques, Lauren Hobart's goal was simple: to create a place where women could come in and find a store that understood them.

The executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Dick's and the general manager of Chelsea Collective, which launched its first two stores in August, wanted to attract both women on the cutting edge of new trends, and those at different stages and in different mindsets about their fitness.

Fusing fitness and fashion in a variety of brand names, Hobart said the company hired experts -- women who buy and use the products the stores offer -- to best serve their customers.

In an email exchange, Hobart discussed the idea behind Chelsea Collective, the response to the stores and the boom in the women's fitness-wear industry.

espnW: What is the early feedback on the Chelsea Collective stores?

Lauren Hobart: We're seeing a positive response to Chelsea Collective. There was a true need in the marketplace for today's woman. It's been so rewarding to see something that was such a labor of love for so many people at the company come to life. It's been great becoming a part of the community in both Tysons Corner [outside Washington, D.C.] and in Pittsburgh through the many local events we've held and partnerships we've formed. We're excited to continue to watch the stores progress and evolve.

espnW: What was the thinking going into the creation of the stores?

LH: Chelsea Collective started with in-depth research where we spent extensive amounts of time with our target consumer, going into their homes, their gyms, their lives. These women were not satisfied with the existing retail options. They were living in athletic apparel, but it didn't always make them look or feel their best, and they wanted a shopping destination that could outfit them from head to toe, including footwear, with a multibrand experience. These women also helped us define the customer experience and assortment they were longing for, as well as the services that they would benefit from in the store.

espnW: To what do you attribute the boom in the women's fitness-wear industry, and what's the latest in terms of fashion trends or general mindset?

LH: There are probably many factors that have caused this boom, but women are leading busier lives -- we all try to fit as much as we can into our days, and having a wardrobe that can move with us seamlessly from work to the gym to errands is key to getting everything done.

Chelsea Collective is focused on serving the stylish fitness enthusiast who is on the edge of the latest fitness trends and follows a workout regime that is varied and exciting. We're reflecting these desires in our assortment in Chelsea Collective, which fuses fashion and fitness like never before. Today's woman wants to look good and feel good, and offering her a place to shop where she can mix and match brands to find her perfect fit was key for us.

espnW: What about those who think the market is oversaturated?

LH: There are many options out there, but that was the beauty of creating Chelsea Collective -- it allowed us to create a destination that features a multibrand offering that provides solutions through various fit options for different body types and style preferences, unlike others in the space. Chelsea Collective also offers extensive services from experts in the field, including gait analysis, alterations and bra fitting, as well as a build-a-bag experience, accessories, beauty products and more.

espnW: How does Dick's tap into what women of different ages, body types and levels of fitness are looking for?

LH: As we mentioned above, we have done extensive amounts of research, which has included spending time with our customers, going into their homes, their gyms, their lives. These women were able to give us honest feedback about what they wanted and what was currently missing, helping us to mold Chelsea Collective with this feedback in mind. We continue to speak to women and receive feedback on what we're doing right and what we could be doing better. Getting this real-time feedback helps guide us to what today's woman truly wants.

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