The Nittany Mall has reeled in a national retailer.
Dunham’s Sports will make itself at home as an anchor in the mall by the end of the year, Dunham’s and mall representatives said.
The Detroit-based sporting goods store has signed a lease to occupy the 63,000-square-foot space that J.C. Penney vacated in April, according to Dunham’s head of marketing Al Blazek and Nittany Mall manager Polly Welch, who declined to release details of the lease.
Blazek, an Ohio State graduate, said he understands the love for sports near Penn State is similar to Columbus.
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“This is a new location and one that I was personally enthused about, because I know what a great sports town State College is,” he said. “The excitement is there for these sports, and we’ll be happy to be a part of that.”
Welch was asked if the store would be a good fit for the mall, but she went a step further.
“It’s a great fit for the area, not just the mall” she said. “I think a lot of people in our area will be interested in what they have to offer.”
Dunham’s has stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Blazek said the company will hire 25 to 45 employees.
“The overall driver from a gut-feel perspective is we found a location in State College, and we knew that this was the kind of city and community that would love a broad sports store,” he said. “It’s not just football or basketball. We have apparel, guns, ski wear, archery, everything. A lot of people in that area are interested in sports across the board.”
Welch said the deal was made official in May.
“This is the big one,” Welch said. “This helps to continue our revitalization of the mall. It’s a great thing for us to have this, and it shows people are investing in our mall and are putting more life into the mall and that the new ownership and management are continuing toward its goal to make it a community center that people want to keep coming back to. I think it shows the community we are stronger and here to stay.”
The Dunham’s venture coincides with other projects at the mall.
The Centre Region Senior Center will relocate from South Fraser Street in State College to a 7,075-square-foot space next to Sears and across from Planet Fitness. In preparation for the move, the senior center will be closed Aug. 24-31 and reopen Sept. 1 at a temporary 4,000-square-foot location in the mall.
A new restaurant called Soup ’R Dogs will occupy the space that Pretzels Plus vacated earlier this summer.
“It’s a busy time, a happy time at the mall,” Welch said.