Quiet two-store test of Ativa for active women

The quasi-stealth openings of the new Dick's Sporting Goods stores for active women called Ativa continue, with management declining comment nationally, while local papers are running splash ads and big public grand-opening parties are scheduled.
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The quasi-stealth openings of the new Dick's Sporting Goods stores for active women called Ativa continue, with management declining comment nationally, while local papers are running splash ads and big public grand-opening parties are scheduled.

SNEWS has learned that a three-day grand opening shindig April 25-27 included local media and bigwigs one night, with public celebrations including hourly prize drawings, workshops and lectures on the weekend.

But we don't really know that -- not officially -- since the company is declining comment about anything related to the Ativa stores. In fact, we can't officially know what the stores look like, how big they are, what brands they carry, or anything about the concept. As if that has stopped us in the past? Talking to our sources -- including local media, reps and vendors -- gets you all kinds of info. So here's the scoop:

The first store opened March 20 in Albany, N.Y., in the Crossgates Mall and is 8,000 square feet. That's where this month's grand-opening parties are. The second store will open in early May in Cheektowaga, N.Y., in the Buffalo area in the Walden Galleria Mall, with a grand-opening fest tentatively scheduled for late May.

Ativa's interesting twist is that the first store in Albany not only has a retail area with clothing, shoes, fitness accessories, and books and videos, but also has an "all-purpose room" in the back for group exercise classes such as yoga, pilates, and aerobics, and for classes, special lectures and educational workshops. It also has a small massage room where management is said to have contracted with a local company for on-site massage therapy.

The second store is simply retail -- and therefore smaller -- although the look, feel and size are similar to the Albany store. Hmmm, wonder if that's part of the test? To see which concept succeeds and how, or if, the concept should be continued? Logical, eh? No additional stores are planned for the immediate future.

Vendors seem to be all over the concept, gushing to SNEWS about what a no-brainer it is, and why hasn't somebody else thought of it. Brands include Nike (the primary vendor), as well as adidas, New Balance, Sugoi, Hind, pRana, Gaiam/Living Arts, Asics, Merrell, Ryka, Teva, Champion, Moving Comfort, Polar (heart rate monitors), plus two skin-care lines. Of course, Dick's women's private label women's brand, Ativa, is represented across several categories.

The stores sell footwear and apparel, but also books, videos, fitness accessories such as hand weights and exercise balls, plus sunglasses, watches and swimwear. More may come in the future.

The feel, décor and colors are feminine, inviting and cozy, with a large white leather sofa for trying on shoes, prices and store displays in decorative frames, imported glass tile in the entry way, and hardwood, carpeting and imported tile used throughout for a classier décor. In addition, the Albany store has a 4-foot-wide and 12-foot-tall water wall that separates the retail area from an all-purpose room.

The target market is active women interested in fitness and sports, ages 18 to 54. As the store's and the brand's tagline goes: "It's an attitude, not an age."

At the front of the store is its mission statement: "Ativa's mission is to inspire and to empower women of all ages to lead active, healthy and balanced lives."

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