Does a Bigger Store Always Mean Better Prices?

by Travis Pizel · 6 comments

A brand new Sporting Goods store recently opened up in a nearby shopping mall. The store, located in the location previously occupied by a Sears, has been the a topic of conversation in the city for over a year (while the building was stripped down to the studs, expanded, and rebuilt to accommodate the space needed).

When it finally opened, people flocked to check out the largest sporting goods store in the area. As consumers, we’ve been conditioned to believe that bigger stores are better. If the store is bigger, it has a bigger and better selection of products.

Also, if a store is really big it must be able to buy things in bulk, and therefore offer better prices. Is that belief really true?

I decided to compare prices of some popular items between the three most popular sporting goods stores in our area. Here are my findings of comparing popular sporting good prices from Scheels to Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sports Authority.

Comparison #1: Under Armour Compression Shorts

  • Scheels Sporting Goods : $24.99
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods: $24.99
  • Sports Authority: $24.99

Comparison #2: Garmin ForeRunner 220 GPS Watch

  • Scheels Sporting Goods: $249.99
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods: $249.99
  • Sports Authority: $299.99

Comparison #3: Asics Gel-Kayano 21 Running Shoes

  • Scheels Sporting Goods: $160
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods: $159.99
  • Sports Authority: $159.99

Comparison #4: GoPro Hero Camera

  • Scheels Sporting Goods: $129.99
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods: $129.99
  • Sports Authority: N/A

The only significant price difference with these four products is the Garmin ForeRunner GPS Watch at Sports Authority. This may be a small product sample, but the perception that a bigger or newer store offers cheaper prices, appears to be wrong.

A Bigger Store Doesn’t Mean Cheaper Prices

Doing further research, it turns out that while the Scheels store footprint is by far the largest of the three, it is actually the smallest company. Scheels currently has 24 stores, while Dick’s and Sports Authority both have hundreds.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a new store opening. It’s also easy to subscribe to the perception that a huge warehouse style store must offer the best prices. But to get the most for your money, the same tried and true shopping methods should always be used:

  1. Research Online: Check their websites for the product you’re looking for and find the best price.
  2. Convenience Counts: If a product is a few dollars more at a store, but it’s location saves you half an hour, maybe it’s worth it to save the time versus saving money.
  3. Look For Sales: The prices listed in my product comparison are extremely similar. Look for a sale, an added bonus, or discounts that will save you money.

I walked through the new Scheels for the first time a few weeks ago, and was very impressed with the size of the store, as well as the massive selection offered. But I didn’t buy a single thing.

Before they’ll get any of my hard-earned cash, I plan to make sure they’re giving me the best value for my dollar.

Have you ever purchased something based on the perception of the value at a store? What was your experience?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Chella says:

    For me, bigger store doesn’t mean cheaper price. Based on my observation, the brand dictates the price. You can only have cheaper price if you buy an average brand or you buy in bulk or you buy out of season.

    • True….but many times the perception is that a larger store can buy (even brand names) in bulk, so they get a better deal. That perception appears to be a myth…. Thanks for reading, Chella!

      • Prem says:

        A bigger store, definitely doesn’t mean cheaper price. But they are the best when it comes to price match. More often than not, they Match within a blink of an eye.
        For a small retailer, it may not be possible. If you do your research well, Bigger stores are the place to go…

        • Travis Pizel says:

          Aaaah, that’s a great point, Prem – never forget to ask if they would price match. My wife is the queen of doing this sort of thing. LOL. Thanks for reading!

  • I always try and compare prices online and preform product research before making a purchase. It’s rare that I will just walk into a store and make an impulse buy.

    • Not only does it help you prevent impulse buying and help you get the best deal, BUT it also saves you time. You can check prices online much faster than physically traveling between stores! thanks for reading, Brian!

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