Just in time for Black Friday shopping, Big 5 Sporting Goods says it will open a store in Payson.
The sport retailer is the latest national chain to announce it will expand to Rim Country. PetSmart and Big Lots are planning to open toward the start of the new year in the Rim Country Shopping Mall.
Town officials say Big 5 is expected to open in the Bashas’ shopping center.
Big 5 goods include athletic shoes, apparel and accessories, as well as outdoor and athletic equipment for team sports, fitness, camping, hunting, fishing, tennis, golf, snowboarding and in-line skating, according to its Web site.
John Stanton, manager of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he is ecstatic the store is coming, not just for the new jobs, but because it will help solidify Rim Country as a recreation hub.
Town officials are working to change the perception that Payson is just a place you drive through on your way to camp or hunt, he said.
Efforts include the Fire on the Rim Mountain Bike Race in Pine, which saw a 150 percent increase in participation this year, athletic tournaments, promotion of the Tonto Natural Bridge and the rodeo.
“The focus is changing from a place to drive through to having places to go,” he said. “It is a new direction and we have all the things needed to become a center of outdoor recreation.”
And Big 5 offers outdoor enthusiasts a place to get supplies. Previously, they had to go to the Valley. Moreover, it gives parents somewhere to buy their child’s sports equipment.
“We are set to move into a whole new era where people look at us as a place for outdoor recreation that they can’t do in the Valley during the summer.”
Currently, Big 5 has more than 400 stores spread throughout a dozen western states.
The retailer operates traditional-size stores, which typically range from 8,000 to 15,000 square feet.
During the last five years, the El Segundo, Calif.-based retailer has opened an average of roughly 16 new stores per year.