Guide to researching the feasibility of a sporting goods or outdoor specialty store

To be honest, I'd rather be riding than researching ;-)
To be honest, I’d rather be riding than researching 😉


My friends in the Ohio University Business Cluster are researching the feasibility of opening an outdoor sporting goods in the Spokane, Washington  metro area. The purpose of this guide is to point business researchers to some key resources when researching the sporting goods industry and the local market.  This guide lists  the most highly recommended resources when researching the industry and analyzing the market.  I have listed the databases and resources below, with recommendations on how to find the best information in the quickest fashion.

Chad’s research advice

A well-researched feasibility analysis will incorporate information from a majority of the tools below.  Some of the databases will be easier to use than others, and researchers are bound to pick a favorite tool to use more than the rest. However, I cannot stress enough how important it is to use SimplyMap, Bizminer, and Mediamark when attempting to understand the consumer market and industry in a specific market.  These three resources can be a bit difficult to use, so I have made a video for using each database specifically for this project, which you will find linked where the databases are mentioned below.  Please note that SimplyMap has a maximum of 5 simultaneous users, so you may need to get up earlier, stay up later, and not procrastinate.

1.  Find information about the larger industry and market

When you first get started, you’ll want to gather an understanding about the broader industry and market.  The resources in this section provide a broad overview of the sporting goods and outdoor sporting goods market.


  • IbisWorld has a report for “Sporting Goods Stores in the U.S.” and “Bicycle Dealerships and Repair in the U.S.”

First Research

  • First Research has industry analyses of “Sporting Goods Stores.”
  • You can also do the same search for “sporting goods stores” and find the same content in Hoover’s Online

Business Source Complete

  • Business Source Complete has a wealth of information, but the challenge may be in finding the appropriate search terms.  Suggestions include, hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, paddlesports, watersports, skiing, fishing, rock climbing, biking, cycling, mountain biking, outfitter, recreational fishing, freshwater fishing, etc.    To avoid being overwhelmed with search results, limit the search to Trade Publications.


  • Statista is a great place to look for a variety of sporting goods and sporting activities statistics.  Search for your topic of interest, such as mountain biking, fishing, etc.

2.  Gather a deeper understanding about the consumer

After you get a good idea about the larger industry, you’ll want to research the consumers in your market.  Market research reports, data, and statistics found in the resources below are an excellent place to start.

Passport GMID

  • In  Passport GMID  has reports such as “Tourist Attractions in the U.S. and “Travel and Tourism in the U.S” as well as reports on “Store-Based Retailing in the U.S.”   You might also try looking at the Consumer Lifestyles Reports to get a broad understanding of how consumers spend their leisure time.

Mintel Oxygen

  • When using Mintel Oxygen for this project, you will find a market research report on “State Tourism” that focuses on the “Influence of Outdoor Activities on Destination Choice”
  • Also look in the Lifestyles category for relevant reports about marketing to  specific group.


  • Use SBRNet to get demographic information and statistics about participation in various forms of outdoor activities.
  • Use the browse by sport on the front page to find data on backpacking, climbing, fishing, hunting/shooting, bicycling, winter sports, water sports, skiing, and snowboarding.

MRI Mediamark Reporter


3.  Analyze your local market

After you research the consumer market for the industry,  you will want to adapt that data down to the local level.  The resources below can help you find information about your local market to combine with national consumer market trends.

Census QuickFacts

  • Census QuickFacts provides easy access to some of the most-used economic and social statistics.
  • The QuickFacts are an easier way to get to census information than American Factfinder.
  • You will want to use census data to compare how your local market demographics align with the more general national demographics of a consumer market (like what you find in MediaMark, Mintel, and Passport,above).

Washington Statistics

  • The Washington Get County and City Data  site is a great resource for demographic and economic information.  If you’re looking for data for another state, try Googling the name of your state and “county profiles”.
  • You will want to use the site to compare how the local market demographics align with the more general national demographics of a consumer market (like what you find in MediaMark, Mintel, and Passport,above).



Mergent Intellect

  • Use Mergent Intellect companies and competitors by user-defined search criteria, such as size, location, industry, sales, and more.
  • Also use to find nearby companies


Hoover’s Online

  • You can also use Hoover’s Online to fine a list of companies and potential competitors in the local market.
  • Because Hoover’s indexes companies in a slightly different way than LexisNexis, it’s a good idea to run the same search in both databases.



Related Topics: Business Cluster, Industry Guides