Bauer Hockey’s “Own the Moment” stores take experiential retail to a new level.
Since 1927, Bauer Hockey has been the go-to manufacturer of ice hockey equipment—offering everything from skates to sticks to goalie pads. Both professional NHL players and beginning youth players utilize Bauer’s line, and the Exeter, New Hampshire-based company strives to have the latest and greatest equipment available.
The 88-year-old Bauer Hockey changed its corporate name to Performance Sports Group Ltd. last year to reflect its expansion into additional sports including baseball and lacrosse, and made the decision to bring its equipment directly to the public by debuting its first-ever “Own the Moment” hockey stores.
“We’re very excited about the initiative and it’s an important step for our company and brand,” says Tory Mazzola, Performance Sports Group’s senior manager, corporate communication. “We look at this as a great way to elevate the brand for our consumers and really let the stores be the ultimate product showcase for all of our equipment.”
The company will open its first Own The Moment retail experience in the Boston suburb of Burlington, Massachusetts, in late summer and its second location in the St. Paul, Minnesota, area in the fall.
“We are planning to do eight to 10 stores, with the others rolling out over the next few years,” Mazzola says. “Plans for the others are still being finalized but think of locations from the ‘Original Six’ hockey teams such as New York, Montreal and Toronto, plus some West Coast locations like California and Vancouver.”
Elevating the experience
The Bauer Hockey stores won’t be just another sporting goods store. Similar to other premium brands—such as Apple or Nike—that have entered retail, the Bauer stores are built to inform and inspire hockey players and will offer the full depth and breadth of all its products in one place. This allows the brand to tell its unique story in a way that only it can, strengthening the surrounding hockey retail environment.
“Each retail experience will have expertly trained associates to guide the consumer through a ‘fit, learn and experience’ process,” Mazzola says. “We are looking forward to using the store to elevate the experience; but really offer a peek under the hood of what goes into our product and really tell the story that’s specific to Bauer as the number-one hockey brand in
Upon entering the store, the first thing a consumer will do is talk to an associate, and then get fitted properly for all equipment. Regardless of whether the player is a novice or Olympic-level athlete, there are procedures in place to make it a smooth process as the player gets fitted from head to toe—or helmet to skate.
Next comes the “learn” portion of the visit. Highly trained associates—who undergo weeks of training and have to pass multiple tests—will guide a consumer through everything necessary to use and care for the
Finally, the most unusual aspect of the visit—and the reason that hockey players are going to want to come back over and over—is the store’s Experience Center, which includes an actual ice-skating rink in the store.
“That’s going to be the most exciting part for most people. Kids can try on their skates and then go out onto the ice and skate around, and truly experience the Bauer equipment like never before at a retail store,” Mazzola says. “There will also be a section for goaltenders to try on their pads and a stick handling area for kids to take shots on a net.”
Staying on top and climbing higher
Since the retail stores will be approximately 20,000 square feet, the ice rink will be about half the size of a regulation NHL rink, but that’s plenty of room for people to skate around and have fun.
“We are doing something that has never been done before in the hockey industry,” Mazzola says. “We see this as an opportunity to continue being the premier brand in the global market and help our customers who want to learn more and ask questions and understand how the equipment integrates together.” Since many NHL stars use Bauer equipment, the company collects feedback from the players to make upgrades and better refine its skates
Mazzola says the flagship stores shouldn’t be considered in competition with the sporting goods stores Bauer already supplies gear to, but seen as a complement to the retail business with a more one-of-a-kind, premium experience.
He also notes that Bauer, which has the largest global market share of hockey merchandise with an estimated 54 percent of the market, believes the retail stores will help the company grow to even greater heights.
For more information, visit OwnTheMoment.bauer.com.