Schuylkill Valley Sporting Goods

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Schuylkill Valley Sports is moving out of the Coventry Mall and into a new location in the Upland Square Shopping Center in West Pottsgrove.

Work is currently underway to get the 5, 500-square-foot store ready, according to Phil Baumgardner, Schuylkill Valley Sports marketing director and buyer.

While a definite opening date will be announced once some remaining “details are buttoned up, ” the company expects to open the new store in early November, Baumgardner told The Pottstown Mercury in a recent interview.

The new Schuylkill Valley Sports store will be the 18th for the chain, which has been selling sporting goods in eastern and central Pa. since 1971, and which has been part of the Coventry Mall in North Coventry for about 30 years, according to Baumgardner.

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“We’ve had a great relationship, and it has been one of our best locations for years. It was a tough decision — but it is the nature of the trends, ” he said.

While Baumgardner conceded that traffic and sales at Coventry Mall have “seen some decline, ” he said the company is making the move based on the current retail landscape and consumer trends. One trend, he said, is away from traditional malls and toward the outdoor or strip mall model.

“Time is valuable for consumers, and they want to get in and out quickly when they’re shopping. We have to follow the trends and have to follow what consumers are looking for, ” he added.

Coventry Mall has experienced the loss of two of its anchor stores in recent years — the Sears in 2012 and Ross Dress for Less in 2014. It was also sold at auction in 2013 for $49.5 million.

The Schuylkill Valley Sports store at the Coventry Mall will remain open once the new location opens, giving shoppers a choice of two area locations for their holiday shopping, according to Baumgardner.

“The current location will remain open through the end of the year with a good selection of products as well as a liquidation sale there as well. We’ll key in on popular fan gear for the holiday season and have an aggressive liquidation sale at the same time, ” he said. “We’re not closing the Coventry Mall store right after the new store opens; we want to serve our customers throughout the rest of the year.”

Once the Coventry Mall store closes, the chain will have a total of 17 stores, including locations at the Exton Square Mall, the Oaks Shopping Center and the Fairgrounds Square Mall. At one point, Schuylkill Valley Sports had 20 stores, according to Baumgardner.

“We have been adjusting as trends change to get ourselves in the best position to grow, ” he said.

The new Upland Square store will have a smaller footprint than the 9, 500-square-foot Coventry Mall store.

“We’re excited about some new merchandising operations and we’ll be launching some key brand concept shops (Under Armour and Nike), which will allow us to offer new merchandising and product offerings. It will be a new, fresh look on the merchandising of key brands and offerings, ” he added.

Baumgardner said last year’s relocation of the Audubon store to the Oaks Shopping Center also resulted in a smaller footprint.

Baumgardner said the company is boosting its group sales area by adding staff and training to provide better service to groups or teams that need to buy sporting goods supplies in bulk.

In addition, Baumgardner said the company has launched a new program to reach more customers who buy in bulk. The web-based service, called “print my shirts, ” serves customers who may not need to come in to the store to place their order.

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