BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The uptick in Tarboro’s economic heartbeat got a little stronger Tuesday when Birmingham, Ala.-based Hibbett Sporting Goods announced a new store to be located in Tarboro.
The Tarboro location will be located in Edgecombe Square, where the only current vacant location is the former Dollar General store, which relocated to the corner of Western and Wilson.
According to Hibbet’s Eryn Vincent, the typical Hibbett location is 5,000 square feet. Vincent said the store should open before the end of summer and anticipates the store will employ eight full and part-time employees.
Hibbett, which primarily operates strip center stores in small and mid-size markets, currently operates 883 full-line sporting goods stores in 29 states.
According to Hibbett’s annual report, on file with the SEC, the company had sales of $818.7 million in FY 2013 — up from $732.6 million in FY2012 and $665 million in FY 2011.
In FY 2013, the company opened 54 new stores and closed 13 underperforming store and showed a 6.9 percent increase in comparable store sales from FY 2012.
According to Vincent, Hibbett Sports stores offer a large selection of quality branded athletic equipment, footwear and apparel, with a focus on knowledgeable, friendly customer service and providing customers with information they can't always get at other stores selling sporting goods.
The company website says Hibbett is the only sporting goods chain committed to serving small and mid-size markets. This strategy has proved to be a successful one for Hibbett as the company continues to expand its number of stores across the U.S.
In 1945 Rufus Hibbett, a high school coach and teacher in Florence, Ala., founded Dixie Supply Company, a retailer of athletic, marine, and aviation equipment. When his two sons joined the business in 1952, Rufus changed the company's name to Hibbett & Sons and focused operating strategy on merchandise for team sports. In the mid-1960s, the company further refined its retail strategy and changed its name to Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc.
Hibbett’s announcement is the latest in a string of positive economic news for Tarboro, following the announcement of a Walgreens to be located at the corner of Main and Howard, a new facility for Bryan Drugs on Hospital Drive and the new Dollar General at Western and Wilson.