Continuing its support for emerging sports startups, Dick’s Sporting Goods is creating a $50 million in-house venture fund called DSG Ventures to invest in sports-related companies, the retailer announced on Thursday.
To start, the fund has invested in Moolah Kicks, SidelineSwap, Out&Back Outdoor, EL1 Sports and Courtside Ventures, per the press release. In a separate announcement, Dick’s Sporting Goods said its investment in the resale marketplace SidelineSwap was a strategic investment in the startup as the two are expanding their recommerce relationship.
The fund is also collaborating with VentureFuel to launch a retail innovation program that will connect startups with Dick’s Sporting Goods to launch a pilot program. As part of the initiative, the startups will collaborate with the retailer on enhancing the customer experience, ranging from artificial intelligence to e-commerce.
In addition to its investment in SidelineSwap, Dick’s Sporting Goods said both companies have collaborated on pop-up trade-in events. The retailer also cited other brands, including Lululemon and Allbirds, that have introduced recommerce into their businesses.
“Dick’s would not be what it is today without the support we received along the way from others who saw our company’s potential,” Ed Stack, executive chairman of Dick’s Sporting Goods. “Now DSG Ventures will enable us to give back and help support entrepreneurs achieve their dreams through our connections, experience and support. We know that DSG Ventures (and our partners) will bring innovative products, services and experiences to athletes around the world.”
Besides SidelineSwap, Dick’s Sporting Goods has a long-standing relationship with another recipient of its investment capital: Out&Back Outdoor. In April, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Public Lands introduced an in-store buyback program in collaboration with Out&Back, which allowed customers to accept outdoor gear at select Dick’s Sporting Goods and Public Lands locations in exchange for instant cash payments.
As the retailer experiments with resale, it has also tested new brick-and-mortar store concepts in recent years. In 2020, the company debuted two new store concepts dubbed Overtime by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dick’s Sporting Goods Warehouse, offering shoppers discounted apparel, footwear and equipment. And as stores started to reopen in 2021, the retailer introduced more physical store concepts.
Dick’s Sporting Goods remains optimistic despite its retail peers bracing for the blow of inflation. During a call with industry analysts in August, its CEO Lauren Hobart said that its customer base is “holding up very well” and the company had not seen signs of trading down. Though its retailer’s Q2 net sales saw a 5% dip from 2021, its second-quarter net sales were 38% higher than in Q2 2019.