After about two-and-a-half years of vacancy, a 30,000-square-foot retail space in Bluffton's Target Center will have a new tenant next fall, Dick's Sporting Goods.
Pittsburgh-based Dick's -- the largest sporting goods retailer in the country, with 474 locations nationwide -- will move into the space once occupied by Goody's Family Clothing, which closed in June 2008 when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The location is between Target, the center's department store anchor, and Staples, near the intersection of U.S. 278 and S.C. 46.
Will Euart of Atlanta-based Stafford Properties, which built the complex about 10 years ago, said he'd been working to close the deal bringing Dick's to the area for nearly 16 months.
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"It's taking a little longer to do deals than it used to," he said. "Because of Goody's situation, we couldn't do what we typically do. We were marketing (the property) but couldn't show it."
Euart said he expects the store to open by Nov. 1, 2012.
About 10,000 square feet would be added to the back of the existing retail space, Euart said -- still smaller than most Dick's locations, which typically range from 50,000 to 80,000 square feet.
"I think the Bluffton market population might not be there to justify a bigger store," Euart said.
According to a news release last month, the company opened 19 new stores in the year's third quarter. The nearest franchise to Bluffton is more than 60 miles away, in Charleston.
Bluffton Town Manager Anthony Barrett hailed the announcement as an indicator of the town's growing reputation as a commerce hub.
"It gives clear signals to other businesses that our area is again open for business," he wrote in a statement. "Not a week goes by without a business-related inquiry (from a developer) coming into Town Hall."
Local sporting goods store dealers had a mixed response to the news.
"I think it's great," said Janet Counts, owner of Sportzone in Bluffton. "I don't think it will have much of an impact on our store. It just shows how more people are moving here."
But Jim Buser, owner of Sports Addiction in Bluffton, was more pessimistic.
"I'd be stupid to think this wouldn't affect me," he said. "I'll definitely have to reevaluate what we're carrying. We may need to specialize in two or three things instead of being so broad."
Buser said the corporate chain threatened locally owned stores such as his.
"There are four or five stores I know of that this could possibly put out of business," he said before pausing. "This might even put me out of business, I just don't know."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.