J.C. Penney looks to score with new in-store shop initiative

J.C. Penney is going all in with Fanatics, the online seller of officially licensed sports merchandise

The department store retailer has rolled out in-store Fanatics shops in 325 Penney stores, with plans to add approximately 325 additional Fanatics destinations by the back‐to‐school season. (Penney has had a partnership with Fanatics since 2014, via its online Sports Fan Shop, but this is the first time the relationship has expanded to brick-and-mortar.)

At approximately 650 sq. ft., the in-store Fantatics shops have modern fixtures, bold graphics and stylized mannequins showcasing t‐shirts, sideline apparel, specialty jerseys and more for men, women and children. There is also an expansive headwear wall.

In addition, 50 Penney stores in top sports markets will offer a more immersive and expanded Fanatics shop experience. The 1,300-sq.-ft “flagship” shops feature 55‐in. mounted flat‐screen televisions projecting the company’s latest marketing, back-wall fan graphics, sports paraphernalia and an oversized headwear wall.

The shops include interactive iPads, allowing displaced fans to connect to the retailer’s online Sports Fan Shop, where they can order Fanatics items online, from any sports team. The premium Fanatics shops also offer MLB affinity apparel featuring Disney and Star Wars designs exclusive to Penney.

The Fanatics shops will be continually refreshed each sports season.

“Fanatics offers fans the world’s largest collection of official sports brands, merchandise and apparel in the industry,” said James Starke, senior VP and head of merchandising, Penney. “We’re delighted to combine their best‐in‐class assortment with a dynamic in‐store experience that offers sports fans a one‐stop destination for all their local team apparel needs.”