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Local

A hasty exit for Hibbett: Sporting goods store in Walmart shopping center closes without notice

DIXON – Another one bites the dust.

After a little more than 5 years, and with no notice, Hibbett Sports has left town.

The sporting goods store at 1620 Miller St. failed to open today. A note on the door expressed the staff’s honor to have served their local customers, and directs them to its Clinton, Iowa, location.

Several calls to Hibbett corporate headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, seeking comment were not returned.

According to online reports, though, Hibbett’s sales are down significantly, as are its share prices, and as a result, it recently shut down 24 underperforming stores and expects to close an additional 82 outlets in fiscal 2019.

It’s likely the Dixon store, which opened Nov. 22, 2013, in the Walmart shopping center, was one such location.

At the time it opened, there also was a Hibbett at Northland Mall in Sterling; that store closed 4 months later, on Feb. 14, 2014.

The nearest Hibbett locations now are the Clinton store at 2712 S. 25th St. and at 1530 S. West Ave. in Freeport.

The closure comes fast on the heels of the loss of another sporting goods retailer: Indianapolis, Indiana-based athletic shoe and apparel retailer Finish Line closed its Northland Mall store at 2900 E. Lincolnway in Sterling a little over a week ago, on Christmas Eve.

Finish Line, which is under new ownership, was at Northland about two decades. It, too, left with no announcement or sale; its inventory was shipped to other Finish Line outlets.

Corporate acquisitions also likely are affecting the two companies’ marketing decisions.

Finish Line was bought in June by Manchester, England-based sportswear and apparel chain JD Sports, Britain’s largest, for $558 million.

JD Sports, which until the acquisition had no stores in the U.S., is in the process of testing the results of converting some stores to its brand, which sells significantly more apparel than Finish Line, which primarily sells shoes.

At the end of October, Hibbett announced it was buying Memphis, Tennessee-based retailer City Gear for more than $88 million. City Gear, which sells athletic shoes and apparel, has 135 stores in 15 states, including Illinois. It will remain as a subsidiary of Hibbett Sporting Goods Inc.

Dunham’s Sports in Northland Mall, which occupies the remodeled space where Hibbett once was, remains the Sauk Valley’s largest sporting goods store.

It opened on Oct. 31, 2014, but closed in late June 2015 for 13 months while damage caused by a storm with winds that ripped off the roof, causing the store’s back wall to collapse, was repaired.

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