DENVER-Ten years ago, it had been considered a coup when Gart Sports took over the lease on a key location at Cherry Creek from the Herman’s World Sporting Goods chain.

At the time, Herman’s had been expected to provide the first real competition to Gart Sports, long the dominant sporting goods chain in Colorado. Herman’s had never reached the point of being a fair match for Gart Sports. Soon after Gart Sports took over the lease, the New Jersey-based Herman’s had filed for bankruptcy.

Now, Gart Sports plans to vacate the first floor store in Cherry Creek, which is owned by the Taubman Co. of Bloomfield Hills, MI. The Cherry Creek store has about 10,000 sf, while the chain’s superstore models each have about 60,000 sf. The Cherry Creek store also doesn’t carry as many items as its big-box brothers, which means customers who want things such as home exercise equipment, hunting gear and more specialized items are sent to other stores. About 75% of its 123 stores are big-box retailers.

Gart Sports also plans to close a smaller store in the Aurora Mall which, like Cherry Creek, will shut down after the holidays. Last year, Gart Sports had closed stores in three other Denver-area malls, Buckingham Square, Villa Italia Mall and the Southglenn Mall. But, Gart Sports has big plans for 2001 as it makes opening plans for as many as 10 stores in Illinois, Minnesota and Utah. The chain is owned by Specialty Sports; the Gart family hasn’t been involved in its operation for about six years.

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