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Champs Sports’s new experiential store.
Morning Brew April 18, 2022

Retail Brew

Hey, hey. Hope you stahted the morning with a Dunks’ run, because today’s the Boston Marathon, which in Massachusetts is also a state holiday, Patriots Day. But you probably already knew that because you’re wicked smaht, kid.

In today’s edition:

—Katishi Maake, Erin Cabrey


The champ is here

Champs Sports's experiential concept, Homefield Champs Sports

Lace up your kicks: Champs Sports has opened a new experiential space. And at 35,000 square feet, the store—called Champs Sports Homefield—is the company’s biggest ever.

What’s inside? A regulation-size basketball court, for one. (Well, there’s a multi-sports court too.) Customers can also do a vertical jump and shuttle run to size up their athletic skills in a digital VR combine.

  • Plus, there’s a health and wellness section that has everything from treadmills and stationary bikes to nutritional products from GNC.

The Pembroke Pines, Florida, store, more so than Champs’s typical locations, is meant to cater to the modern athlete—a key customer its parent company, Foot Locker, has zeroed in on since it merged Champs Sports and DTC brand Eastbay last year.

“What the environment brings together is all these elements in really one house, with the center of the house something really geared deeply [toward] and rooted in performance,” Guy Harkless, SVP and general manager of Champs Sports, told Retail Brew. “On the perimeter of the house, [we’re] thinking about all the things that are from a lifestyle standpoint.”

Team effort: Homefield is home to plenty of household names like Nike and Adidas. But Champs is also making more room for its own private labels and niche brands to its assortment, such as Brooks and Hoka, as more wholesale partners shift their attention to DTC.

“We do know that in a place like this, we do have the ability to tell even more stories and do them in a way that we know we can bring something just extra to the athlete that comes into our stores,” Harkless said. “That performance aspect really isn’t something that we’ve had a chance to do other than through the Eastbay business.”

+1: With Homefield, Champs is all-in on experiential—which we’ve previously highlighted as a key element of store design today. Click here to read why retailers are striving to make shopping more memorable than transactional.—KM



Jump-start your innovation

Jump-start your innovation

A convo with Morning Brew cofounder Alex Lieberman, an interactive case-study review, and an open discussion about workplace innovation with a group of your peers. You’ll get all this at the free Morning Brew Accelerator (MB/A) Innovation Workshop happening on April 20 from 7–8:30pm ET.

In this 90-minute, hands-on event, you’ll:

  • Get introduced to innovation frameworks.
  • Discuss the common pitfalls of innovation.
  • Learn how to lead innovation in your own role.

And that’s just a taste of what you’d learn in the 8-week MB/A course!

Register now while spots are still available.


Alt together now

Background of shopping carts Tanja Ivanova/Getty Images

Don’t tell your vegan cousin in Los Angeles, but alt-protein is pretty mainstream. The Good Food Institute (GFI) last week released its annual State of the Industry reports, breaking down alt-protein’s 2021 by the numbers. Here are some major takeaways:

Cash cow: Alt-proteins raked in $5 billion in investment in 2021. Plant-based foods scored $1.93 billion, led by Impossible Foods’ $500 million raise. Big Idea Ventures and SOSV/IndieBio led the field with 10 deals each last year, while more than 300 new investors jumped into the category.

  • Alt-seafood companies netted $175 million—twice what they secured in 2020.
  • Capital invested in cultivated-meat companies was up 336%, to $1.4 billion. Plus, there were eight Series B deals, up from just one in 2020.
  • Meanwhile, fermentation companies raised $1.7 billion and received their first round of growth-stage financing last year, with three rounds exceeding $200 million.

Despite this influx of private support, GFI noted that public-sector investment is lagging, though the USDA funded a $10 million grant for the first National Institute for Cellular Agriculture.

Making the sale: In the US, while plant-based food sales rose 6%, plant-based meat sales remained flat after some slowdowns in the latter half of the year.

  • The year was a bit more sunny for plant-based eggs, which saw a 42% boost.

On brand: Competition continued to heat up with the debut of 21 new cultivated meat and seafood companies and 15 new fermentation companies. But that’s nothing compared to the plant-based set, where 100+ companies (and over 250 SKUs) debuted in retail.

As product offerings expand, Walmart last year made dedicated space in its freezer section to “position ourselves for this large growth,” Callie Acuff, frozen food merchant at Walmart, told GFI. Looking ahead, her expectations for the plant-based category this year echoed what experts shared with us in January about the meat segment—namely, improvements across quality, texture, and taste.—EC



  • Apple workers at its Grand Central Terminal flagship store in New York are reportedly seeking to unionize.
  • The Ever Forward is finally free after being stuck in the Chesapeake Bay for more than a month.
  • Corn futures in Chicago topped $8 a bushel for the first time since 2012.
  • UrbanPiper, a restaurant management platform in India, scored $24 million in funding; investors include Swiggy and Zomato, two of the country’s food-delivery giants.


Insider Intelligence

Consumers are likely to spend more than ever in 2022. Insider Intelligence’s team of analysts share 3 of the biggest trends in the retail industry every commerce professional should know. Receive a complimentary copy of this report directly to your inbox.


Join us at The Checkout

The Checkout event promo focused on sustainability on April 27, 2022 Francis Scialabba

For all our Andrew Adam Newman fans, we’ve got some stellar news: On April 27, our larger-than-life senior reporter will be sitting down with Liz Hershfield, SVP and head of sustainability at J. Crew Group and SVP of sourcing at Madewell.

Liz and Andy will discuss how a global brand goes about creating impactful sustainability goals, and then holding themselves accountable.

  • Plus, we’re convening IRL, Brew-style, for some of those old-school, real-life human connections.

BYOWB: See you there (and don’t forget to bring your own water bottle) on April 27 at 5:45pm ET in NYC. Register here.


Today’s top retail reads.

Smoke screen: Have reports of e-comm’s takeover been greatly exaggerated? “We’ve got over 100 years as a society of going into a store to buy something,” said Mark Shmulik, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “That muscle memory doesn’t just switch off because you were forced to buy things online a couple of times during a pandemic.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Hubba, hubba: Atlanta is the emerging fashion capital everyone should be watching. (WWD)

Real talk: Now on the menu? Virtual brands. (Eater)

Your future is social selling. Ambitious brands see the social-commerce wave on the rise. That’s why Flowspace and Digiday surveyed 100+ execs about their priorities and tactics for this exciting channel. Their new report, The State of Social Commerce, is a must-read. Get it here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


At the mall, it’s where band tees are the only tees. In Retail Brew, it’s where we invite readers to weigh in on a trending retail topic.

Every Earth Day, retail and CPG companies from fashion to food jump on the sustainability bandwagon to announce new initiatives and campaigns promising new targets or new product lines made from eco-friendly materials. Or, some just offer Earth Day discounts.

With the annual event coming up on Friday, we’ve already seen a few eco-friendly campaigns roll out this year:

  • PepsiCo’s SodaStream teamed up with David Hasselhoff for a Baywatch-themed campaign about saving sea turtles, committing to saving one baby turtle for every SodaStream machine sold this month.
  • Today, footwear maker Sperry debuted the All For Water, Water For All platform, growing its eco-friendly SeaCycled collection, now featuring canvas uppers made with 100% recycled polyester, while Vans on Friday unveiled a new Eco Positivity Collection.

You tell us: How much do you care about retail companies’ Earth Day campaigns? Cast your vote here.

Circling back: Last week, after Neiman Marcus Group and online luxury retailer Farfetch announced a global strategic partnership, we asked if you expected others to make similar moves to cash in on the growing luxury market—and 91.7% said definitely.


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