Sheila Kressler-Crowley, the marketing director for Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, has worked for the popular Arizona chain for nearly seven years. The long-awaited Bookmans Sports Exchange is set to open in April in the Rancho Center, 3330 E. Speedway Blvd. For more information, visit www.bookmans.com or follow the store on Twitter @BookmansSports.
When did planning begin on the Sports Exchange?
I would say it's been in the works for years. (The financing) came through, and then we pulled the trigger. So I'd say we've been talking about it for, gosh, probably between five to 10 years.
How has marketing this store differed from marketing the other Bookmans?
Because we're in Tucson and have been for 37 years, marketing the store using that Bookmans brand has actually been fairly easy since people know who we are and what we do. Really, we're going to be doing the same thing, just with a different product line. So having that kind of heritage here in Tucson already has actually helped us.
What have been some of the challenges of opening a store with a total shift in merchandise?
I think some of the challenges are just, (as) with any construction project or remodeling project, all the hiccups that come along with that. We're moving full steam ahead now. It started pretty slow between the demo and the construction, but now that's kind of coming to an end. Then they'll be turning it over to us shortly, so we'll figure it out and put our signs up.
What can people expect the inside of the store to look like?
The inside of the store is actually going to be really cool. We're playing off the existing building: we've exposed the beams and we've re-treated the original brick in there. So it's going to have a real urban, loft feel using some of the materials that were there already. It's brand new, first of all, and it's huge. It has a full basement where we'll stock inventory and also have a service department. If you have a treadmill and it's broken, we'll be able to service that as well as sell it. It's really afforded us all this space to do some really exciting things.
What is the range of merchandise that will be available?
We're going to try to cover sports, fitness and outdoor. Sports would be things you would get for your kids' Little League practice, from balls to gloves to bats. Fitness would be where you could find the latest fitness gear: medicine balls, yoga mats and treadmills. Outdoor will have a great array of camping gear, hiking gear and even fishing rods. We'll also have inventory based on the season, so this time next year we'll have sections of skis and snowboards, and then as summer comes in we'll have more of water-recreation sports as well, like wakeboarding and waterskiing.
Have you already been receiving merchandise?
We have. People have been bringing everything from Thighmasters to treadmills and everything in between to our existing stores. We've also been spending the last year acquiring inventory as well, going to different trade shows and working with vendors. So we'll be opening with a really good portion of new and used.
Bookmans has emphasized community involvement over the years. What type of community events will be held at the new store?
We'll be doing everything from "Mommy and Me" baby yoga to clinics on golf, tennis and baseball, to baseball card shows. We'll be doing maybe fitness clinics or marathon training clinics. Of course, what we do in our existing stores is we always offer free events, so we'll be taking that model of free events and applying it to the sports, fitness and outdoor industry.
Is there anything that will differ in the way the business runs versus the other stores?
Not really. You can trade in your books at the Speedway location and you'll be able to use that trade at Bookmans Sports Exchange. So Bookmans trade credit is essentially going to be universal between all our stores statewide. We'll still be extremely involved in the community, still offer trade, still offer that great experience where you can bring your dog and your drink and hang out.
Was it difficult to find a location for the store?
We've had our eye on this location for a while. The space was ideal because it's in the middle of Tucson ... and being next to Whole Foods is great. So it just kind of all worked out.