A second national sporting goods chain soon will be opening its doors in Milford.
Hibbett Sporting Goods, a publicly-traded company based in Birmingham, Ala., is planning to open a new location in the Milford Commons shopping center off of North Dupont Boulevard sometime in late April, according to Jeff Gray, the company’s vice president of real estate.
“Milford has the right location and the right population, and we feel it fits really well with our strategy,” Gray said. “We really like small towns, and we feel like we can bring something to the market that the residents there are probably driving to Dover to get now.”
Hibbett Sporting Goods will occupy a 5,100-square-foot retail space that previously held Advanced Auto Parts before that business moved to the newly-renovated Milford Plaza shopping center in September.
Hibbett’s grand opening in Milford will come less than six months after Olympia Sports, a privately-owned sporting goods chain based in Portland, Maine, opened in the Milford Plaza shopping center.
Both stores represent their respective national chain’s first foray in the Delaware. Olympia Sports owns more than 200 stores throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, while Hibbett’s operates more than 870 stores, predominantly in small and mid-size markets the Southeast and Midwest.
“We’re just starting to hit [the Mid-Atlantic] and the Milford location will be one of 65 stores we’re opening this year,” Gray said.
A major draw that helped attract both chains to Milford is the nearly $18 million Kent County Regional Sports Complex currently under construction south of Frederica.
Slated to open in 2014, the 100-acre complex will include 15 indoor and outdoor fields for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, including five on artificial turf.
The Central Delaware Soccer Association already has signed up to play its games at the complex, which is expected to host up to 10 annual sports tournaments a year.
County and state officials have estimated the complex will have an $18 million-a-year impact on the local economy and help to create more than 300 jobs in Kent County.
“The sports complex was definitely a draw for us,” Gray said this week. “It helps to have that attraction nearby and we hope to be able to serve those athletes with their apparel and equipment needs.”
Milford Economic Development Director Steve Masten said he believes the town’s new sporting goods stores also stand to benefit from First State BMX hosting up to 300 riders this September for the First State Nationals, one of the events in the 2013 USA BMX National Series.
“I imagine they’ll find themselves catering to BMXers, as well as baseball, softball, soccer, hockey and lacrosse players,” he said. “I think it’s a good sign that both these chains have chosen Milford as their first location in Delaware and they’re both welcome additions to the community.”
Page 2 of 2 - Gray said he expects the new Hibbett store to hire eight to ten full- and part-time employees.