Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dick's and Sports Authority - anecdotally, recipe for disaster

While I am not much of a sportsperson, our family has hosted several exchange students over the years, and between these exchange student daughters and our own American daughter, we've spent some time in sporting goods stores.

And years ago, I concluded that some stores were better than others.

I've always had good luck at Big 5, and Chick's Sporting Goods was...well, it was GOOD when it was around. But Chick's gave way to Dick's several years ago, and I still remember a not-so-fruitful visit to Dick's in the Colonies. At one point, the salesperson told us, "You're not going to get the same service at Dick's that you did at Chick's." On this point, the Dick's salesperson and I were in complete agreement.

But at least I found a salesperson at Dick's. One day about nine years ago, I took my Swiss daughter to the Sports Authority store east of Montclair Plaza. We started looking for some assistance...and couldn't find any. Eventually it became a game, in which I was roaming around the store trying to find SOMEBODY. Finally I gave up and walked out of the store; I think we went to Big 5 (this was before the Upland Mountain Avenue location closed).

Now I am the first to admit that this is anecdotal and not scientific, and I'm sure that there are people who have received wonderful service at both locations. But my experience was a little different.

Having not set foot in either location (or any of the locations of the two stores) for years, I certainly raised an eyebrow when I read this article:

Over the last several months, Sports Authority has experienced a long, painful and visible death — the likes of which the retail sector would rather not see so often. For the last few weeks, Sports Authority has been going through the process of auctioning off what storefronts and inventory it could to make a little scratch back, and though it was rumored that some buyers were sniffing around the brand itself for a possible resurrection down the line, Dick’s Sporting Goods put a stop to that Thursday (June 30).

While rosy-eyed people may talk of synergies and other wonderfulness, I have steadfastly been of the opinion that the merger of two weak companies does not result in a stronger company; more often than not, the resulting company is weaker than the first two. And no amount of fluffery will negate the inherent problems of the merged firm.

And in this case, Dick's isn't even getting stores; it's getting "intellectual property," a mailing list, and (maybe) a few stores. But when you consider the intellectual property of Sports Authority, it makes the intellectual property of "Late Night With David Letterman" seem like deep philosophy.

Sports Authority and Dick's could only dream of having this.

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