Carbondale welcomes Dick’s

By Gus Bode

After months of anticipation, Dick’s Sporting Goods opened its doors to the public, and Carbondale residents showed up in droves.

The store had its first day of business Friday after holding a “Friends and Family” night Thursday, where employees’ friends and family could shop the day before the official opening. The store will celebrate its grand-opening this Friday after an unofficial training-week.

Despite being a big-box store similar to Wal-Mart, some people found the prices a bit high.

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“Everything is kind of expensive, but that’s to be expected,” said Kelsey Kactenbreaker, a freshmen nursing student from Carbondale. “I’ve seen cheaper stuff.”

Since the announcement was made late last year that a Dick’s Sporting Goods was coming to Carbondale, residents and business owners have had mixed reactions of how the retail giant would fit in with the community.

Shannon Dougherty, one of the managers at Dick’s, was pleased with the opening weekend turnout and hopes Dick’s can avoid the negative image often associated with major corporate stores.

“People are pretty excited to be here. We’re not here to put anyone out of business,” Dougherty said. “We’re just here to be another option in the market.”

Dougherty said Dick’s in other areas often engage in “community marketing,” where stores provide raffle prizes for various organizations and sponsor local sports teams. Dougherty said she hopes the Carbondale branch participates locally as well.

“We want to become part of the community,” Dougherty said.

Though local sporting goods stores have reacted negatively to the stores opening, small business owners in other towns with a Dick’s store said they actually helped business.

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Rob McGraw, who manages Vitesse Cycle Shop and Often Running sporting goods stores in Normal, said the store has actually been a blessing in disguise for his shop.

“It’s actually bettered our business,” McGraw said. “They call themselves a full service bike shop, but they don’t actually have the stuff to do full service.”

McGraw, a former manager at Dick’s, said the staff at his and many other stores often lack the proper training to help customers with a hard problem.

“I tried to help them change their bike training program, but they just didn’t want to listen,” Mcgraw said. “Even the managers don’t know what they’re doing. They know how to push product, but they don’t know the mechanics of the product.”

Seventy employees spent the past three weeks building the store from the ground up. They did all the cleanup and fixture work on the 40,000 square feet store.

“We built the store from the ground up, so you take pride in what you do,” said Nicole Havey, a junior at John A. Logan studying microbiology and a Dick’s employee. “It took about three weeks. That was considered very fast.”

Employees were given five coupons a piece to pass out to family and friends who were allowed to shop the day before the official opening.

David Lopez can be reached at 618-536-3311 ext. 273 or by email at [email protected]

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