By GARY NELSON
One of the two vacant big-box stores at the Chandler Fashion Center will have a new tenant in 2023.
Scheel’s, a sporting goods chain based in Fargo, North Dakota, plans to open a 220,000 square foot store in space formerly occupied by a Nordstrom department store.
Nordstrom’s, at the north end of the mall, closed in 2020, blaming the COVID pandemic for the lack of customers. It was the second flagship store to leave the 20-year-old mall; the first was Sears, an iconic retailer still grappling with the fallout from bankruptcy in 2018.
In place of Nordstrom, Scheel will include 75 separate stores with merchandise for virtually all types of team and individual sports.
A typical Scheel store is something of a tourist attraction, and the Chandler store will feature a 16,000 gallon saltwater aquarium, a “wild mountain”, arcade games and a restaurant.
Scheel’s operates 29 stores, with another opening this fall in Montana. The Chandler outlet is its first in Arizona.
âScheel’s entry into the Chandler market speaks volumes about the vibrant retail environment and dynamic quality of life in Chandler,â Mayor Kevin Hartke said in a press release. “Chandler Fashion Center continuesâ¦ to assert itself as a premier destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.”
Scheel CEO Steve M. Scheel said the company had researched the Phoenix market for several years before deciding to locate here.
Its closest competitor to Valley in terms of scale and style is probably Bass Pro Shops in the Riverview shopping area of ââMesa. Bass, however, focuses on outdoor sports such as fishing, hunting, and boating.
Bass’s arrival in Mesa about fifteen years ago was accompanied by a major controversy.
To attract Bass and other retailers, Mesa agreed to forgo about $ 80 million in city taxes and fees, in the hopes that Riverview’s overall revenues would eventually bolster the town’s economy.
Opponents of the deal forced a referendum; Mesa voters approved the incentive package in May 2005 by a margin of 56 to 44 percent.
In contrast, said Chandler spokeswoman Stephanie Romero, the city has offered no tax relief to Scheel.
Edyie McCall, director of economic development for Chandler, said Scheel’s arrival is a testament to the overall strength of the city’s economy.
âChandler has proactively attracted high-paying jobs, which allows disposable income to be spent in our retail stores, making Chandler an attractive location for Scheel’s,â said McCall. “Scheel’s is a premier destination retailer, which will draw visitors to the Chandler Fashion Center, thereby strengthening the mall and the surrounding shopping environment.”
Chandler Fashion Center is owned by Macerich Co., whose president, Ed Coppola, said the store “will be a great addition to this family market.”
Scheel’s plans to employ approximately 400 people in Chandler.
The first Scheel store opened in 1902 in Sabin, Minn., Funded by the $ 300 German immigrant Frederick A. Scheel earned by harvesting three acres of potatoes. Eventually, sporting goods replaced hardware as the company’s main activity.