A sporting goods store is opening in an anchor position at FairOaks Mall, filling a large gap in the center’s retail lineup.

Dunham’s Sports, which opens this morning in the 86,500-square-foot former location of Kmart, is the chain’s 18th store in Indiana. The Columbus location, at 2394 25th St., is one of the chain’s five largest stores, said Al Blazek, a Dunham’s spokesman.

Customer promotions and giveaways are planned when a ribbon is cut and doors open at 9 a.m.

Mall tenants said Dunham’s opening could trigger a renaissance, helping build foot traffic that declined when Kmart closed at that location in April 2014.

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George Banks, owner of The Computer Hawks and Oriental City in the mall, estimates the traffic into his stores dropped 90 percent after Kmart left.

“I just think that they’re going to bring more traffic into the mall,” Banks said. “Hopefully, it shows that the mall is coming back.”

Dunham’s stocks name-brand products in traditional sporting goods and athletics equipment and active and casual sports apparel, including Under Armour, Nike, Adidas and Puma. Hunting equipment and a golf shop are also part of the store’s inventory.

The company offers a team program that allows coaches of youth sports to sign up their teams for discounts on equipment. A similar program is offered for employees who are on company-sponsored sports teams.

The new store will employ about 45 people in part-time, full-time and management roles, said Stacey Ford, an assistant manager at the Columbus store. That’s similar to the number of Kmart employees who had worked at that location.

Dunham’s will join a fairly crowded sporting goods field in Columbus, with three other stores in the city as well as general department stores, which sell some of the same products.

The new store will compete with Hibbett Sports, a sports-related store already in the mall.

Jason McKenzie, an assistant manager at Hibbett, said he doesn’t foresee that to be a problem as their product lines don’t totally overlap.

Dunham’s has a lot of outdoor merchandise not found at Hibbett, so there’s not a competitive component to that, McKenzie said.

“They have a lot of outdoor stuff and stuff that we don’t carry,” McKenzie said about Dunham’s arrival. “With a lot of our prices, we will still be good to go.”

Founded in 1937 as Dunham’s Bait and Tackle in Detroit, Dunham’s has more than 200 stores in 19 states, largely concentrated in the Midwest. Those numbers are growing.

The chain, now headquartered in Troy, Michigan, has added stores in seven new states in the past four to five years, Blazek said.

“Columbus is a great city. There is a lot of vibrancy there. There is a lot of interest in the many things we offer in our store,” he said.

But for some, Dunham’s is not so much a sporting goods chain but a much-needed shot in the arm for stores that have experienced a downturn.

“I feel like a lot of people in Columbus have forgotten about the mall,” said Cheryl Stuck, owner of J. Nicole and Nite Life Boutique in the mall. “They need to be reminded that there are some unique stores here that aren’t anywhere else.”

To learn more

To learn more about Dunham’s, check out the company on Facebook at facebook.com/dunhamssportinggoods or on Pinterest at pinterest.com/dunhamsports.

Dunham's Sports

Opens: 9 a.m. today at FairOaks Mall, 2394 25th St.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Employees: About 45