Scheels, an employee-owned and operated sporting goods and entertainment chain store headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, has a slogan of "Gear. Passion. Sports."

One look across the new 250,000-square-foot location in the Eden Prairie Center that opens Saturday, July 11, and it's clear where the slogan comes from.

Scheels has everything from sports gear to outdoor and hunting equipment to shoes and apparel to home and yard favorites including grills and smokers to electronics.

"It's super exciting. We've been waiting for this moment for a long time. There's been a lot of hard work, and a lot of people have put in a lot of time to make sure everything is set. To make sure we have the product in the store to open up. We come from a smaller store inside the mall, but it feels completely new with the magnitude and size when you step into the store," said Austin Link, marketing lead for Scheels Eden Prairie.

The new Eden Prairie Scheels will feature 85 specialty shops including fishing and a bike and service shop, a 16,000-gallon aquarium, Ginna’s Cafe, Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory, a 65-foot Ferris wheel, interactive games for the whole family, and many more attractions.

The aquarium is home to more than 700 saltwater fish, coral, and vegetation species.

While training for Ferris wheel workers was completed recently, that and other attractions will not be open right away due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"We're going to have super fun attractions all around the store, but right now with the world we're in right now we're going to make sure the health and safety are No. 1 for our customers. Our Ferris wheel is ready to go, but it won't be running. A few other attractions, we have a cool gun game, will be down. A small arcade we have will be down. But our golf simulator, our baseball HitTrax batting cage, will be up as we'll have people looking for a bat, getting fitted for clubs, and we want to give them the chance to try them out," Link said.

Scheels, which operates 28 store locations in 13 U.S. states, first opened its doors in the Eden Prairie Center in September 2006. The original location was a 20,000-square-foot shopping experience with an array of products in sports, fashion, and footwear.

Other Minnesota locations are Rochester, Mankato, St. Cloud and Moorhead.

"Pre-COVID we had some pretty exciting things planned. Unfortunately we put a hold on them. We're going to open our doors (Saturday) and let everyone come check out our store. We haven't promoted it like we wanted, just because we don't want 10,000 people waiting in line. We want people to come check out the store, we just hope they all don't come at once so we can remain six feet away and give our cleaning crew a chance to sanitize and clean everything properly," Link said.

ANCHOR STORE

Malls across the country and even locally, including the Mall of America, have seen anchor stores shutter their doors in recent years. An addition such as a cornerstone store such as Scheels is a boost to Eden Prairie Center.

"It's an incredibly special opportunity. Our entire team is very excited to welcome Scheels in their new department store. Scheels started their concept store here in our center. We've had the pleasure of helping them grow that business from that smaller concept store into now what will be their third-largest department store in the country. To be a part of that journey means a lot to our center," said Christa Kremer, marketing manager for Eden Prairie Center.

Eden Prairie Center has served the southwest metro area for more than 40 years. At 1.3 million square feet, it is currently anchored by Von Maur, Target, Kohl's and JCPenney, along with a renovated 18-screen AMC Theatres, Barnes & Noble and numerous full-service restaurants and signature retail stores.

The mall was also the set to the 1990s movie "Mallrats."

"We opened back up on June 6, so it's been a month. We have a majority of our retailers back. It's a literal handful still working on the nuisances with reopening. ... Everyone is being careful. Our cleaning crews have been doing an outstanding job in making sure we have a great environment to spend time in," Kremer said.

Mall hours are condensed at this time, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

ALL ABOUT LOCAL

Link, who visited the Mankato location often growing up, said the Eden Prairie spot is three times as large. He said it may take people 45 to 60 minutes to get around and check out all of the attractions before getting down to shopping.

"It all starts with community. We started here before and we certainly didn't want to go anywhere. We wanted to go bigger and better. A lot of the other stores, the St. Clouds, the Rochesters, were certainly a lot bigger than our older Eden Prairie store, and we're excited to bring that larger experience to Eden Prairie," Link said.

Scheels donates more than 10 percent of its profits to local charities and local nonprofit organizations. Store hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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