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Taking a break from things pure talent to talk a bit about business strategy, namely the power of finding your niche.

Example:  Birmingham-based Hibbett Sports.  They're growing, and a big part of the market opportunity they have is knowing who they are and where they can play, then doing that better than anyone else.  More on the growth at Hibbett's from the Birmingham News:

"Birmingham's Hibbett Sports Inc., fresh off a robust third-quarter performance, is increasing the Hibbett number of stores it'll open next year as it launches a major expansion of its store base. Hibbett CEO Jeff Rosenthal said the retailer expects to open about 40 new stores in its current fiscal year, 10 more than previously projected. And the company has identified 400 additional small markets that could be home to stores in coming years. 

Rosenthal said the company could have more than 1,200 stores in its 26-state area, up from 789 today. He didn't put a time frame on that store count. 

The ashes of one retail chain with Alabama ties could help spur further the growth of Hibbett.  Rosenthal said several new Hibbett stores will open inside the shells of former Movie Gallery locations, giving the sporting goods retailer the opportunity to look into freestanding locations. He said it makes real estate available for Hibbett, providing it a chance to grow. 

Movie Gallery, based in Dothan before moving to Oregon, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, and won court approval last month on its liquidation plan. Once the nation's second-largest movie rental chain, Movie Gallery closed down all of its more than 2,500 stores across the United States, most of them in the same kind of small markets that Hibbett likes to operate in."

Here's the cool thing about Hibbett's:  They sensed a hole in the market and they've filled it.  Big sports retailers like Sport's Authority and Dick's Sporting Goods open huge stores in the richest suburbs. Hibbett's, for the most part, doesn't try to play that game.  They locate most of their stores in the next population circle, in the small towns 30-40 miles outside those suburban centers.  They have stores that are the size of - you guessed it - a Movie Gallery or Blockbluster.  They offer greater sports selection than general retailers like Wal-Mart can in the same small town area, and as a result, the local population is thrilled to have them there.  

Now, based on that strategy, they're about to be the beneficiary of the death of the movie rental chain.  They can expand and get great terms in those small town slots vacated by Movie Gallery, because let's face it, no one else is going to grab that space.  They'll get great deals on space with easy opt outs if it doesn't work out, meaning they have a clear path to book lots more revenue with limited expansion risk.

Know who you are.  Know who you can be, then exploit the hell out of that position.  Sounds like a good lesson for your company's employment brand, and maybe for the HR profession in general. 


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