Apparently, if you open the world's largest all-sports store, you can decorate it with just about anything that suits your fancy.
That's the impression I got when I visited the newly opened Scheels retail store in Sparks, Nevada. This 295,000-square-foot behemoth is more amusement park than sporting goods store. The flagship store opened in September 2008 near the intersection of I-80 and Sparks Boulevard.
Not only does this mall-size store sell rows and rows of basketballs, a plethora of fishing rods and an armory of guns but it also includes a 65-foot-tall Ferris wheel, a 35-foot-tall mountain of mounted animals, a virtual race car driving game and two 16,000-gallon aquariums (one for freshwater fish and one for sea critters).
But what really struck me speechless were the 14 life-size presidential statues - two of which actually move and talk when activated by motion sensors. (Walk into Scheels to buy a couple of fishing lures and you may end up having a conversation with Thomas Jefferson about the Declaration of Independence.)
To keep the entire family happy, the two-story store also offers an indoor play structure and a laser shooting simulator for kids. There are also shops that sell picture frames, vases, lamps and furniture for the non-outdoorsy crowd.
The idea, according to Scheels' spokespeople, is to make the store a hybrid entertainment venue and shopping destination - and it is exactly that. I could have spent hours watching the fish in the giant aquarium that greet visitors near the store entrance but instead I went to the mountain bike shop to price hard-tail bikes.
And what shopping center would be complete without a Starbucks outlet and a fudge shop?
- Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times staff writer