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Burghardt Sporting Goods has opened its new location in New Berlin, with plans to double production capacity while tapping into the experiential side of sports retail.The family-owned sporting goods retailer took over approximately 82,000 square feet of a former Walmart store building at 15333 W. National Ave., relocating its headquarters offices, retail storefront, screen printing and embroidery production, online fulfillment operation, and opening a new sports performance center for local sports teams. Burghardt purchased the 108,000-square-foot building last March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced its two brick-and-mortar stores to shut down during what's typically the three busiest months of the year.Significant revenue loss, followed by surging demand for sports and fitness equipment and resultant supply chain lags didn't stop the company from building out its new location and moving across town from Brookfield. The business also has a retail location in Fox Point."A lot of things happened really fast from last February to our opening last week," said Brian Burghardt, one of three fifth generation owners. "In one year we went from an empty, vacant Walmart to up and running with a new performance center."The performance center, which includes four batting cages with HitTrax baseball/softball hitting simulators, netted turf area, and conference room and team sales showroom, is rented by local sports leagues to run practices, tryouts or training. With both the meeting room and play space components, the space is designed to be a one-stop resource, said Burghardt. "(Leagues) can have their board meeting, they can explore uniforms and spirit wear, they can do tryouts, they can let the kids run around ... it's a community-based experiential situation," he said. The space has been nearly booked to capacity from its opening in January through March. So far, baseball and softball teams are its main users, but it's open to any sport that could make use of an indoor netted turf, for example football or lacrosse. The plan is to attract other leagues of various age groups, from youth to adult, said Burghardt.As the retail landscape has evolved, the sporting goods retailer has felt the need to "bring more to the table," said Burghardt. And the performance center offers just that, an experience that customers can't get online."Retail is a tricky game with all of the online options," he said. "So to just be a retail store that sells hard goods that you can buy easily with your phone online just didn't seem like a long-term viable plan." The initial idea behind the move was to consolidate Burghardt's 20,000-square-foot Brookfield location and off-site production under one roof with a larger footprint. Now with four times the space, Burghardt plans to more than double its production capacity in the coming years. Custom face masks remain in high demand by both corporate and sports organizations, which has helped keep the company afloat.What's more, Burghardt has many of its significant accounts in New Berlin and surrounding areas; the move has reaffirmed some those relationships and gave way to a new partnership.Last fall, the company struck a deal with the City of New Berlin, which purchased approximately 25,000 square feet of the West National Ave. building and nearby lands to house its park and recreation offices and activities. There has been discussion of adding onto the north side of the building for additional recreational facilities."We've been around 140 years, and our passion for being a good community member has always been there, but now it really seems like there a lot more tangible opportunities to be the community partner we've always seen ourselves as," said Burghardt.
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