International sportswear manufacturer Wilson has expanded its scope of operations by opening a retail store on the Third Street Promenade. The 4,500 square feet space is Wilson’s first brick-and-mortar location outside of Chicago and New York.

While arguably not quite as bombastic-a-brand as other sports equipment and activewear manufacturers, Wilson supplies the official ball of the National Basketball Association, together with the official ball of the NFL, the US Open, the French Open and is the brand of choice of catcher’s mitts for many Major League Baseball players, clubs for professional golfers and so on.

“Our retail strategy is really led by community, by the athletic community and California is a really important athletic community,” Gordon Devin, President of Wilson Sportswear, says.

“It’s organic. We’re a company that has evolved over 12 decades now. That wasn’t a strategy, it wasn’t even created as a brand, per sé, if you think about it. It started life as a manufacturer of sporting equipment and it has evolved as a brand since then, which is very different to brands that are created now. So, I think, we’ve evolved into who we are.”

The Santa Monica store, located at 1349 Third Street Promenade, features an in-store playtest area for consumers to trial products, including a basketball hoop, hitting wall and on-site racquet stringing. The new store also has an “Equipment Room,” where shoppers can rent select products to playtest on their own outside of the store before purchasing. Customers will be able to leverage this unique program for sporting goods needs across tennis, pickleball, basketball, football, volleyball and more. Rental fees range from $5-$10 per day based on product, and all rental fees will be taken off the final price if purchased.

As Wilson is set to open its impressive inaugural west coast outlet, many stores, including big brands like T-Mobile, have opted to forsake the Promenade as thefts continue to plague retailers.

“It’s a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the Promenade returns to its peak. And we were lucky enough to get this location and work with a really forward thinking landlord, who owns a lot of property on this street. And they know that it has to be a winner,” says Devin.

“There are so many aspects of Santa Monica that make it unique. It’s one of the best known destinations in America where every tourist wants to come to. Yes, it needs some cleaning up and I’m sure that’s underway and I’m confident it will continue, but regardless, we’re here because of the small communities that exist here. This is an epicenter and it gives us access to all of the amazing sports communities up and down the west coast.”

This weekend — Friday May, 5 to Sunday May, 7 — staff at the shop will be hosting a community sport activations program on the actual Promenade, in front of the store. It will include a tennis pop- up experience, dunk competition and special guest appearances. Plus there will be little practice putting greens where you can discover to your horror quite how much work your short game needs.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.