If you're looking for sporting goods, there's a new player in town — as Hibbett Sports officially opened its doors at 1001 N. Main St. (the former Family Video location) in Newton this month, celebrating its grand opening over the weekend.

Newton had been on the radar of the retail chain, according to store manager Steve Joe, as Hibbett has 13 different locations in the region — with El Dorado, McPherson and Hutchinson being the closest. With the shuttering of a location in Goddard, an opportunity arose.

"Because of the close, we were able to relocate that particular staff and all its contents, basically, to this particular location," Joe said. "They were always looking at a couple different locations — a couple of them in Wichita, a couple of them in surrounding areas — and they just happened to come across, based on the demographics and what was being fed through Newton, and decided to pick Newton."

Aside from the sales that will be offered year-round at the store, Joe noted what he believes to be a standout of the store will be the customer-friendly atmosphere. The "head coach" (the in-house title for Hibbett store managers) hopes that all shoppers who come into the Newton location will quickly feel an ownership, like they are part of the team.

"One of the big things that we try to strive for is customer service. We want everyone to feel at home when they come into a Hibbett store, especially per location of that particular store," Joe said. "Our whole intent here is to build a relationship the very first year that we're here."

Part of that stems from the Hibbett model, as Joe noted the stores are very attuned to what its customers are asking for — from clothes to shoes to various sports (i.e. basketball, football, soccer, etc.) equipment.

If certain brands tend to be top sellers, than Joe said the Newton store will stock more of that brand, while he said if a specific type of shoe — like cross trainers — are selling better than others, then he will make sure to increase the inventory of that style.

"We're going to have a lot of changes in apparel and things that we bring into our store, basically, because most of our stores — depending on where they're located — try to feed to the demographics of where they're at," Joe said.

Having been open for a couple of weeks now, store traffic has been varying early on in terms of peak hours, but Joe is hopeful that it will continue to attract customers and have an impact both on individuals and in the bigger picture of what this means for Newton.

"As strong as Newton is becoming and as strong as the chamber has been and all the welcoming that we've had from a lot of people, the ideas that they have shared with where they would like to take Newton in the future, we would like to be a part of that," Joe said. "We would like to help the town grow. We'd like to help individuals grow through working here or even just building their relationship, just coming in purchasing sports items."

Hibbett Sports is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more product information, visit www.hibbett.com.