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SCHEELs sporting goods to replace JCPenney at Southgate Mall

The national retailer SCHEELS will replace the property vacated by JCPenney in Southgate Mall with an opening date of 2021, mall managers said on Friday.

The announcement was made roughly a week after Southgate Mall owner Washington Prime Group announced the closure of JCPenney and the acquisition of its property.

Lou Conforti, CEO and director of Washington Prime, said SCHEELS will be the “logical choice” to meet the demand from Missoula’s sporting goods users. He described the company as “one of the best merchants out there.”

“(This) is yet another example of how we are fulfilling our promise to serve as the dominant town center in a robust market incorporating both enclosed and open air formats,” Conforti said in a statement.

JCPenney is slated to close in the second quarter of 2020. The new sporting goods store will occupy 110,000 square feet of space in the former JCPenney property.

Steve Scheel, the company’s CEO, said the Missoula store will “focus on family fun” with interactive games, a cafe and a sports simulator. The company is based in Fargo, North Dakota, and has 27-locations across the county, including Billings and Great Falls.

“We’re thrilled to bring the state’s third SCHEELS store to Missoula,” said Scheel. “We moved to Montana more than 50-years ago and since then we have enjoyed serving the people and communities across the state.”

The arrival of SCHEELs will add competition to Missoula’s outdoors retail market. Bob Ward’s Sports and Outdoors sits a block away and offers many of the same brands and equipment that SCHEELs will offer.

Bob Ward’s Sports and Outdoors president Chard Ward told KPAX in Missoula that competition isn’t a bad thing.

“In the end, we want what’s best for this town and everyone that lives, works and plays here,” Ward told KPAX. “With that, competition and choices locally are good. So as we’ve done numerous times in the past, we welcome another retailer to Missoula and this great place we get to call home.”

Southgate Mall this week also noted several new additions, including Cinnabon, Big Dipper ice cream and Auntie Anne’s, among others. Mall officials said 25 locally owned businesses now occupy the mall – a figure they expect to grow over the coming year.