Dick's Sporting Goods is leaving Buckland Hills in Manchester

Photo of Luther Turmelle

One of Connecticut’s oldest malls, The Shoppes at Buckland Hills, is losing one of its anchor stores.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is leaving Manchester-based mall, which opened in 1990, for The Plaza at Burr Corners, located a few miles southeast of the Shoppes at Buckland Hills.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is expected to open in its new location sometime in October, according to Adam Winstanley, a principal in Concord, Mass.-based Winstanley Enterprises, which owns the outdoor shopping plaza.

Winstanley said his family’s company just bought out the lease of Pilgrim Furniture & Mattress City in the plaza and will combine it with a former Planet Fitness location to create a 55,000 square foot space for Dick’s.

The plaza, at 283,000 square feet, was considered “an under-performing property when we bought it four or five years ago,” he said. “Only 55 percent of the space there was occupied when we bought it. Now we’re around 90 percent.”

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills is located west of Interstate 84, while The Plaza at Burr Corners is located on adjacent to the eastbound side of the highway at the Buckland Street interchange.

Manchester officials, as well as representatives of Pennsylvania-based Dick’s Sporting Goods and the mall’s owner, Brookfield Properties Retail Group, did not return calls made by Hearst Connecticut Media seeking reaction to the deal.

Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York City based Strategic Resource Group, called Dick’s Sporting Goods leaving the mall “a curious consideration for them.”

“Dick’s is a family founded business that had tended to be loyal to the landlords that have helped them grow,” Flickinger said.

But the company’s new chief executive officer isn’t a member of the Stack family, which founded the company. Lauren Hobart, who is also president of Dick’s Sporting Goods, took over leadership of the company on Feb. 1.

“It sounds to me like Dick’s is doing this as a cost-cutting move,” Flickinger said. “But retail success is so dependent on complimentary customers that come from other stores, so this could be a challenging switch for them.”

Winstanley said his company did not offer any special incentives to lure Dick’s Sporting Goods away from The Shoppes at Buckland Hills.

Flickinger said Brookfield Properties officials would be smart to offer one of Dick’s competitors a deal to fill the space the retailer is vacating. One potential replacement, he said, is Academy Sports, which has stores in 16 states in the South and Midwest, but no locations in the Northeast.

Flickinger said he is confident that Brookfield Properties can find a replacement anchor store for the space Dick’s is leaving.

“Nobody can reprogram a space better than Brookfield, and that mall is one of the better balanced and most successful malls in the Northeast,” he said. “They have a well-deserved reputation because they invest in the success of their tenants.”

luther.turmelle@hearstmediact.com