MANCHESTER — Penny Plichta went to the new Dick’s Sporting Goods in the former Sears at the Mall of New Hampshire Wednesday morning to buy football gear with her grandson.
They didn’t know it was opening day for the new store.
“We’ve been waiting for the store to open, it’s so exciting,” said Plichta, who lives in Manchester.
Her grandson, Cameron Duran, 7, also plays baseball and soccer.
“I think we can find everything right here in this one place; shoes, clothes, gear and all your supplies,” Plichta said. They also inquired about getting a baseball glove steamed, which reduces break-in time.
The 45,000-square-feet store opened Wednesday morning with green balloons lining the aisles and prominent spaces decked out with New England sports teams and University of New Hampshire merchandise. This is the chain’s 733rd location nationwide and seventh in the state.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, which employs 45 full- and part-time workers, has both a parking lot and mall entrances.
The front of the new store features outerwear, including coats, gloves, hats and snow pants. Come spring, baseball gear will likely be displayed, said Garron LaFountain, community marketing manager for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Since Sears closed in November 2018, the space has been split up to make room for the sporting goods store and another tenant, Dave & Buster’s, a restaurant and video arcade. The spot is expected to open by March, according to the mall’s website.
Olympia Sports nearby offers similar products on a smaller scale. The chain with 180 stores opened its first store in South Portland, Maine, in 1975.
“We aren’t going anywhere,” said Tom Ackerman, Olympia’s store manager.
He declined further comment on the Dick’s store opening.
Jessica Moores, the owner of Manchester Craft Market, is glad the section of the mall is no longer a dead-end.
“It’s great to have traffic down this end of the mall again,” she wrote in an email to the Union Leader. “We’re thrilled to have a mall entrance, it will be a great boost for all of our local makers.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods thought the brand fit in well with the other retailers at the mall, LaFountain said.
“We cater to our community so whatever we think will be the best sporting goods items for the community that’s what we are going to carry,” he said.
The Manchester store does not include a hunting section.
The store offers equipment services like softball and baseball glove steaming, arrow cutting, skate sharpening and rod tip replacements.
“We offer delivery and assembly of our big items like treadmills, elliptical machines and basketball systems,” LaFountain said.
The store is hosting a three-day grand opening celebration starting Friday. On Friday, the first 100 people in line will receive a short sleeve Adidas T-shirt and Saturday and Sunday will receive a mystery gift card ranging in value from $10 to $500, with one person winning a $500 card.
Other contests will also take place throughout the weekend, including a chance to open a gift locker.
On Saturday, former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich will be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m. The appearance requires a wristband handed out earlier in the morning.
LaFountain said the company works with local sports groups for financial support and equipment donations and runs a foundation to support youth sports called Sports Matter.
Working in construction, Arica Siegel of Manchester came to the new store to buy winter hats and gloves. She didn’t know the store was opening at the mall.
“I just brought a friend to the mall and said, ‘Oh my God, a Dick’s,’” she said. “I’m psyched.”
She was impressed with the new store.
“There is a great selection,” she said.
Other Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in New Hampshire include Concord, Keene, Nashua, Portsmouth, Salem and Seabrook.
“The arrival of Dick’s Sporting Goods shows how the Mall of New Hampshire continues to evolve for our shoppers, making their experience even more enjoyable each time they visit, said Jack Toscano, general manager of the Mall of New Hampshire in a statement.
“We are pleased that The Mall of New Hampshire has opened five new retailers within the past 12 months including: Cycle Gear, Tillys, Vans, Xfinity Store by Comcast and LOK’D Room Escape (opening in November).”