Dick's Sporting Goods
Photo credit: George Sheldon

Dick’s ‘Public Lands’ Concept Sets Sights on Serious Gear Shoppers

In a conference call with investors, Dick’s Sporting Goods’ outgoing CEO announced two new ‘Public Lands’ concept stores that will focus on ‘elevated’ camp and outdoor gear.

Among committed outdoor enthusiasts, Dick’s Sporting Goods is not often the first choice for premium gear. Rather, the retailer historically attracted more beginner and casual outdoor recreation participants — and to that end, has competed against big-box store retailers, as opposed to specialty retailers like REI, Patagonia, or small independent outfitters.

But last week, outgoing CEO Ed Stack said the company will redouble its efforts in the “camp, hike, bike, kayaking, fishing” categories with a new store concept called “Public Lands.” According to Stack, these Public Lands stores will offer higher-level outdoor gear that is markedly different than what customers see in Dick’s store today.

“Our camping category is we’re really a bit more backyard camping if you will, kind of day camping. This will be much more elevated,” Stack said on a conference call.

“We think that the overlap between the products that we carry in this new concept and the products we carry in Dick’s will be somewhere around 20%, maybe a little bit less. But this will be more elevated equipment, apparel, footwear at elevated price points with elevated brands, elevated service.”

What’s more, Dick’s will transition some of its existing Field & Stream hunting and fishing locations to pilot the initiative. The move follows the brand’s larger pivot out of the firearms-related categories after the 2018 Parkland school shooting.

Dick’s ‘Public Lands’ Concept Stores

Stack said the company will start with two Public Lands stores to launch in fall 2021, between August and October. The stores will replace current Field & Stream locations in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio.

Stack acknowledged that the Public Lands stores will focus on the aim to “protect public lands, to protect the environment,” but offered no specifics on how. He did say the company, now led by incoming President and CEO Lauren Hobart, will release more details on the concept stores closer to the opening.

While Stack didn’t say what brands the Public Lands stores will carry, he touched on the elephant in the room, saying the stores will be different than REI and “carve out a different niche.”

Regardless, the announcement follows a growing trend of big-box stores — like Walmart — pushing to add higher-quality and accessible gear to accommodate a growing number of outdoor participants.

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.