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Public Lands hasn’t opened its doors, but the new outdoor specialty retail concept being launched by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. has committed to honoring its namesake by supporting the nation’s public lands and several environmental organizations that work to protect them.
Dick’s on Tuesday said Public Lands, a member of 1% for the Planet, will donate 1 percent of gross sales to The Public Lands Fund, a new charitable initiative that’s part of The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.
The Fund, in turn, will use those Public Lands proceeds to support various environmental nonprofit organizations, including an initial set of 10 groups. Five of the first 10 environmental nonprofits are in the Columbus, Ohio, or Pittsburgh, Pa., areas, the sites of the first two Public Lands stores, while the other five are national nonprofits.
The initial nonprofit partners in the Pittsburgh region are Allegheny Land Trust and Venture Outdoors. In Columbus, the company will support The Arc of Appalachia, Project Learning Tree, and Friends of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. And the national nonprofit organizations announced as partners include the Alaska Wilderness League, The Conservation Alliance, The Conservation Lands Foundation, Student Conservation Association, and The Trust for Public Land.
The first Public Lands store, in the Pittsburgh area, is slated to host its grand opening the weekend of Sept. 24-26. The Columbus store is set to open in October.
Outside Business Journal reached out to Dick’s to ask if the company would disclose the amount Public Lands donates each quarter and break out the retailer’s revenue in the corporation’s earnings reports, but we hadn’t heard back by press time.
Todd Spaletto—the former group president of Wolverine Worldwide and global president of The North Face—who now serves as Public Lands’ president, said the donations are aligned with the company’s overall goal.
“At Public Lands, our mission is to celebrate and protect public lands for all,” Spaletto said. “We want to do this in a meaningful way and partner with organizations that have already accomplished—and continue to do—incredible work to ensure our public lands and outdoor spaces are clean, preserved, and open for all. Moving forward, we’re going to be working with our nonprofit partners to support their missions and collaborate on programs that get more people into the outdoors and take care of our local, state, and national parks and recreation spaces. In fact, we’re proud that our Pittsburgh-area store team has already logged 224 hours in volunteering with local nonprofit partners doing trail restoration, clean up, and breaking new trails in local Pittsburgh parks and lands.”
The new concept is launching at an opportune yet challenging time for outdoor retail. Specialty and national retailers alike are benefiting from a crush of new consumers to outdoor activities, though supply chain congestion and overwhelming demand are threatening to deflate some of the momentum.
Will a store that has the backing of Dick’s—a $10 billion-a-year publicly traded company—have an advantage over the smaller players when it comes to sourcing, say, tents, sleeping bags, or backcountry ski gear? Will it have a built-in customer base or struggle to attract those who prefer to shop local? Stay tuned as we cover the sporting goods giant’s new venture and its impact on the outdoor specialty channel in the coming months.