A combination of “play and community” are at the heart of Wilson Sporting Goods’ first West Coast store.
The sports equipment giant has opened its first location in California, in Santa Monica. The new store, located at the Third Street Promenade shopping district, blends an expansive product selection and immersive experiences that celebrate the brands rich history and inspires play. Wilson Sporting Goods opened its first permanent store in 2021, in its Chicago hometown. In addition to two pop-up locations, Wilson currently has two permanent stores in the Chicago area (with one at Oakbrook Center) and three others in Manhattan — with more to come.
Gordon Devin, president of Wilson Sportswear and Erin Pelton, Wilson’s director of retail spoke with Chain Store Age’s Deena Amato-McCoy about the store’s design and inspiration, as well as Wilson’s expansion goals.
Why did Wilson’s choose Santa Monica for its first west coast location?
Devin: Our goal was to position Wilson’s West Coast location in a prime retail spot, allowing our active west coast consumers to engage with sport and their local community every day. The Santa Monica community has a strong affinity for active living and sports, which made it the perfect location for our west coast debut.
This location represents our dedication to elevating the sports store to new heights and our retail expansion goals.
What was the inspiration for the store’s design?
Devin: The Santa Monica store’s design inspires play among our customers, shows the physical expression of our brand and leans into Wilson’s heritage. We showcase some of our top products across baseball, basketball, tennis and more.
The design also highlights the legacy of sport that we’re so proud of and we want our customers to experience that legacy firsthand. The concept of play is very important to us — we believe real experiences with our brand are the best way to engage customers and share our legacy.
This store also features special West Coast-themed items that will only be available at this location.
What design elements and materials bring this vision to life?
Devin: Our stores are an amalgamation of nostalgic luxury and modern innovation. Our material palette comes from sport and features hard-wood floors, powder-coated metal, leather, grey felt and a signature deep green accent color.
Pelton: The store design also includes leather elements made from our NFL and NBA balls used on the court and field, and we feature them along with clean, modern fixtures. You can find leather elements in our benches and displays. We want our stores to embody an elevated field house [athletic facility] esthetic.
Meanwhile, the store’s walls featurewheat-paste wallpaper that highlights catalogue imagery from our 100-year history. Specifically, these visuals are from vintage Wilson advertisements and historical sport moments. It’s a great way for us to visually display the brand’s longstanding history and heritage in sport culture. You will even find hidden inspiration behind some of our current sportswear designs.
Tell us more about the store’s experiential elements.
Devin: Our store design is centered around experiencing our products firsthand. We hope the store inspires customers to pick up a ball and play themselves, immersing themselves in the product.
We encourage this in the store’s “play” area for example. This is a large, interactive space for consumers to play-test products in-house. The play area includes basketball hoops and a hitting wall, for example, where customers can hit balls and shoot hoops.
The spaces are open to our consumers during normal store hours, but we also use them for events and activations, like player appearances and panel discussions.
The store also has an “equipment room” in-store activation area. Here, shoppers can rent select products for a limited time and play-test them outside of the store before purchasing merchandise, often at a discount.
We also featureon-site racket stringing services for all in-store playing needs. This is another way that we are encouraging customers to see the store as a destination where they can engage in all aspects of play.
Our goal is to foster an environment that encourages athletes of all ages and skill levels to feel comfortable. Overall, we are aiming to bring this concept into the community, and not just be considered a retail destination.
What is the next step in your expansion strategy?
Devin: We opened a pop-up location at the Hampton Racquet Club in East Hampton, N.Y. this summer. It is a public and private club featuring 13 tennis courts, pickleball, as well as retail and dining.
Peloton: We recently opened another pop-up location in Houston, and will have a pop-up on the grounds of the US Open, as well. We love to meet the athlete and fan where they are, and give them the opportunity to experience Wilson retail at their favorite sporting event.
Wilson is also exploring additional opportunities in key cities for the year ahead, as well as in key sports communities around the world in the future.