Brand Experience Brief: Sport Chalet

Welcome to my newest Brand Experience Brief, a video audit and analysis of a new or interesting retail or restaurant concept.  Today you can take a look at Sport Chalet flagship store located in the Fig@7th shopping center in downtown Los Angeles, CA.  As you will see, the concept and design of the store is quite compelling but the execution on the brand’s positioning “The Experts” fall short due to a lack of service, curated experience, and expert content.

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: Sport Chalet from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

Got a concept you’d like me to cover in an upcoming Brand Experience Brief?  Let me know in the COMMENTS below — thanks!

other Brand Experience Briefs:

  • Nike and New Balance — two flagship stores across the street from each other in New York City’s Flatiron district
  • REI — REI’s flagship store in SOHO
  • C9 — Target‘s active apparel store at San Francisco’s Metreon center


Hi I’m Denise Lee Yohn and this is an audit and analysis of the in-store brand experience at Sport Chalet, the multi-channel sporting goods retailer with 53 stores in California and other Western States.  The chain operates a flagship location in the hip shopping center FIGat7th in Downtown Los Angeles and says it intends the store to embody the brand’s new positioning as “the urban resource for sporting gear, advice, and support from the Experts.”   Let’s see if it lives up to this vision.

The store is in an urban location and offers a more targeted selection of sporting equipment in its 27,000 square feet, compared to the typical 42,000 square feet suburban Sport Chalet.  The exterior makes the brand seem contemporary and cool.  There’s a whiteboard style map indicating the locations of popular outdoor sporting spots, upcoming 5Ks and marathons, and Sport Chalet offerings like a diving trip off the Los Angeles coast.  That’s flanked on one side by black metallic panels contrasting with bright displays and on the other by wooden panels with old school style engravings.  Inside the store has an industrial feel with polished concrete floors and exposed ceilings.  So it’s definitely urban.

It also has a lot of product including sport specific sections such as tennis and snowboarding which are promoted with branded signage.  There is a large branded sunglass section, rows of accessories like sport medicine products from McDavid, and big box retail-style branded end caps for equipment brands like Petzl and BioLite.  So in terms of quantity and selection the store lives up to its positioning as a resource for sporting gear — but it doesn’t provide any help in navigating the product offerings.

For example, at the front of the store there are lots of bikes but no indication of whether they are organized by boys, girls, adults, or by cycling type, or by price like they have at most stores.  There are lots of tables of shoes but no signage indicating what kinds of sports they are for like you’d find at a Foot Locker. And the treadmill for trying the shoes out is across the aisle in the women’s clothing section, unlike at Road Runner Sports where treadmills are the centerpiece of the store experience.  In the camping gear section, there is an impressive rack of sleeping bags and tents with hangtags that convey some product specs but it doesn’t compare to the “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” signs and informational tags you find at REI.

All of this would be OK if the store provided the advice and support from The Experts it claims, but I found little evidence of it.  The “Expert Center” is prominently located in the center of the store and eye catching but no one was manning the booth and I didn’t see a schedule or any other indication of the weekly educational clinics it was billed as hosting. There is a rental counter with a chalkboard showing snow and scuba reports and rental fees but it isn’t highlighted with any signage and I saw that a customer had to retrieve a salesperson to come to the counter for help. And in fact no one approached me to offer help or even to say hello even though there were plenty of salespeople around.

Bottom line, the concept and the design of this Sport Chalet flagship are very compelling but the execution on being “The Experts” falls short due to a lack of service, curated experience, and expert content.

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