Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 88
Small Town Niche
Hibbett Sports brings premier athletic brands to customers in neglected markets.
BY TIM O'CONNOR
Hibbett Sports operates about 1,080 stores in 35
states, and is working to open 50 more locations
each year going forward.
Jeff Gray, vice president of real estate
ost retailers want to be where the majority of shoppers are. Major brands
place their flagship stores in big cities where they can pull customers
from the large surrounding population. But Hibbett Sports has found success in the past 40 years
by taking the opposite approach. Instead of chasing
population-packed metropolises, the sporting goods
retailer found success by being the go-to store for
Hibbett Sports stores are typically found in county seat-type markets with few major retailers. Places
where without Hibbett Sports residents would have
to drive a long way to purchase well-known brands
such as Nike and Under Armour or settle for discount products. "We like to go to markets where
we're needed," says Jeff Gray, vice president of real
estate. "We have a pretty specific focus we've done
for 40 years. It really gives us an advantage in those
In addition to Nike and Under Armour, Hibbett
Sports features a full lineup of products from wellknown companies such as adidas, Reebok, Oakley,
Columbia, New Balance and Northface, among others. In many cases, Hibbett Sports is the only outlet
in town for major brands.
"The majority of our stores are in markets with
one or [no] competitor," Gray says. Being the only
retailer that sells sporting goods in a particular area
gives Hibbett Sports negotiating power with brands.
The company leverages those relationships to secure
exclusive products and better allocations.