Dick's Clothing & Sporting Goods confirmed yesterday the October opening of its first three Maryland stores -- in White Marsh, Glen Burnie and Hunt Valley -- setting up a battle with entrenched Baltimore retailers for consumer dollars.
The privately held company with headquarters in Coraopolis, Pa., near Pittsburgh, declined to disclose its investment but said each warehouse-sized store would take up 60,000 square feet and employ about 125 people, many of them hired locally.
"The company is in the middle of an aggressive growth stage," said Joe Queri, Dick's vice president of real estate.
Under leases negotiated by local real estate broker KLNB Inc., Dick's is opening stores in:
* The Glen Burnie Mall, at the corner of Route 2 and Ordnance Road, where Dick's plans to add space to the building.
* The upper level of the former Macy site in Hunt Valley Mall, at the intersection of York and Shawan roads. Dick's could be a tonic for Hunt Valley Mall, which has suffered high vacancy rates, but mall officials declined to comment yesterday.
* Adjacent to White Marsh Mall, in the new Nottingham Square retail center at the interchange of Interstate 95 and Campbell Boulevard.
Best Buy, the consumer electronics retailer, will open at the Nottingham center in September, and two other tenants will be announced imminently, according to J. Joseph Credit, vice president of commercial development for Baltimore-based Nottingham Properties Inc. A fifth retailer will be identified later this year or in early 1996, he said.
Despite the influx of "big box" merchandisers, White Marsh Mall welcomed the neighboring retail center. "It sets up a good marriage for cross-over shopping," said Karen Pospisil, marketing manager.
But Dick's, which uses volume buying to keep prices competitive and stocks a huge selection of goods, should create a formidable challenge to Baltimore competitors, which include three Sports Authority stores, half a dozen Herman's World of Sporting Goods stores and more than a dozen Sunny's stores.
"If I owned a sporting goods store in Baltimore, I'd be a little nervous," said Alan N. Carr, chief executive of Retail Strategies, a retail business consulting firm based in Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb. "They're a real category killer." With a large breadth of merchandise and competitive prices, Mr. Carr said, "their stores are loaded."
Even though all three Dick's sites are within a few miles of Sunny's stores, Stephen A. Blake, president of privately held Baltimore-based Sunny's, says he is confident.
"We've been here a long time [since 1948], and we've seen a lot of people come into town, and everybody's looking to take a little piece of everybody else's business and, meanwhile, our business has continued to grow."
Dick's chose the three Baltimore-area locations, the company said, because of their proximity to major highways and shopping patterns.
The stores' merchandise will include camping, fishing and hunting gear, team sports equipment, shoes, professional and college team-licensed merchandise, exercise equipment and a broad line of casual wear.
Dick's, which operates 25 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, also expects to open 12 stores in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, by year's end.
In addition, the company is exploring other Baltimore-area sites, although officials would not be specific.