Teamwork is Key in Retail Innovation

The outside of a stadium-like shoe store

Dick’s Sporting Goods Case Study

Innovation is increasingly the name of the game in retail. Now that customers are basically able to buy whatever they want or need from the comfort and safety of home, many brands and retailers are focused on creating special experiences that motivate shoppers to get out of the house and stop by for a visit.

And some retailers are going big — very big — with this idea. A fascinating example of this is Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has been working on a series of ambitious prototype stores and fixtures.

The sports and fitness giant wanted to design an experimental, interactive sporting goods store that Dick’s itself would have trouble competing with. So they teamed up with several industry partners to help make it happen. Key players included Ohio-based design firm WD Partners and Visual Creations (VCI), the Rhode Island-based display and fixture manufacturer that works with most of the nation’s top retailers.

Outside of a house of cleats store

The Vision: An Ambitious, Interactive ‘House of Sport’

Dick’s hired Ohio-based design firm WD Partners to collaborate on a new sports superstore concept. Featuring an indoor rock-climbing wall, interactive batting cage and “Golfer’s Paradise” pro shop, as well as a new Health & Wellness center and a multi-sport outdoor field, the first Dick’s House of Sport opened in March 2021 in Victor, New York.

The company, which operates some 728 Dick’s locations across the U.S. plus additional sporting goods subsidiaries, is following through on plans to open more House of Sport locations going forward.

Closer Look: Retail Fixtures with a Stadium Feel

The ongoing Dick’s project also required some signature merchandise display features to attract and engage in-store shoppers, and to help tie the whole concept together. For this aspect of the project, Team Dick’s drafted VCI and the company’s signware division, Rose Displays.

VCI is a longtime collaborator with Dick’s and a key part of its work on this project involved building the House of Cleats — an immersive, in-store footwear installation that evokes the look and feel of a sports stadium, complete with a familiar green AstroTurf surface.

Working from design drawings developed by WD Partners, VCI engineered and manufactured the House of Cleats prototype, then coordinated with Dick’s and WD throughout the process until the innovative (32 ft. long x 20 ft. wide x 14 ft. tall) fixture met Dick’s high expectations.

Key features include easy, interactive access to products and information, illuminated fabric lightboxes for eye-catching visuals, powder-coated structural tubing, magnetic letters spelling out the seasonal sports footwear being featured and more. VCI constructed the piece from high-end materials, while also value engineering the entire process for affordability.

A wall of youth shoes

The Role of Relationships in Retail

For Visual Creations/Rose Displays, the Dick’s Sporting Goods project is another high-profile example of its ongoing work seamlessly executing major projects for leading retailers.

VCI relishes collaborating on unique projects like Dick’s House of Cleats in part because they are a great opportunity to demonstrate “our next-level capabilities as a fixture company,” says Jeff Hastings, chief marketing officer at VCI-Rose.

“From visionary idea to amazing in-store experience, we’re able to move projects forward into multiple prototypes, honoring the intent of the agency design,” says Hastings, noting that one of VCI-Rose’s specialties is working closely with brands and retailers to create signature “store décor pieces.”

Hastings emphasizes that a key factor in VCI-Rose’s success in this area is its ability to build close, long-term relationships with key clients. Founded in 1980, the company is laser-focused on understanding its clients so well that it essentially functions as a trusted advisor in such scenarios, rather than just a traditional retail industry supplier.

Seating area inside a shoe store

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Today, as ever-changing economic conditions pressure retail industry players to redefine who they are going forward, many are looking to engage and delight their customers by creating extraordinary in-store experiences. In Visual Creations-Rose Displays, says Hastings, such companies will find an experienced, insightful industry partner who is eager to help.


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