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Sportsman’s Warehouse scouts Georgia sites

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A new outdoor sporting goods retailer is targeting Georgia as more consumers desire products that support active lifestyles.

A new outdoor sporting goods retailer is targeting Georgia as more consumers desire products that support active lifestyles.

Midvale, Utah-based Sportsman’s Warehouse(Nasdaq:SPWH) is scouting the state for its first stores as the company focuses its expansion on the South.

“I think there are all kinds of opportunities along that I-10 corridor through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama into Georgia,” CEO John Schaefer said in a March 23 earnings call. “I think there are opportunities in the Southeast that are no different than the opportunities we see in the West … We’re targeting the South, and we’ll continue to do that as we get into 2016.”

Sportsman’s Warehouse offers hunting, shooting, fishing and camping gear. In Georgia, it would enter a market with several competitors, including Cabela’s, Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops. Field & Stream, an outdoor retailer owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., is also scouting sites in Georgia.

The influx of these hunt-fish-camp retailers stems from a broader trend of people seeking ways to live a more healthy lifestyle, much like the rise of locally sourced food and beverages.

“I do think the market is crowded,” said Emil Gullia, a senior director with Franklin Street of Atlanta.

But, he said, “The retail sector that rewards performance and health won’t stop. It’s increasingly fueled by young people who are more conscious about what they are taking into their bodies and the impact on the environment. It makes people feel good to go outdoors and live healthy.”

It’s unclear how many stores Sportsman’s Warehouse could bring to Georgia. In its home state of Utah, it has eight locations. So far in the Southeast, it has one store each in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.

The company is positioning itself for an aggressive growth spurt, with the goal of growing to 300 or more stores, according to a January investor presentation. It has 11 new stores planned for 2016.

The company may target secondary markets in Georgia, such as Macon, Augusta, Savannah or Columbus, according to some local retail experts.

“I think they have a real place in the market,” said Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua of Fuqua Development LLC, which has retail projects across metro Atlanta including The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park. “They can go into a lot of smaller markets.”

A Sportsman’s Warehouse spokeswoman did not respond to a request for an interview.

Founded in 1986 with a single store in Midvale, Utah, the company has grown to 66 stores in 20 states. The company had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009, closing some of its stores. It’s since rebounded and went public in April 2014.

Its stores range from 15,000 to 65,000 square feet, with an average size of 44,000 square feet.

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