Crowds cheer on new Detroit Nike store as community wins

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Nike just did.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based sports company has opened the doors of its highly anticipated latest store in downtown Detroit to the public with a swoosh.

“We are Nike, we are fun,” a crowd of Nike store workers dressed in black T-shirts chanted and cheered as they greeted customers who had meandered down the block waiting to enter. They sang lyrics that blended the sports brand with the city. , and touted how, Nike is now “in the D.”

Related:Tom Izzo praises Detroit at Nike store opening: ‘It’s so cool’
Look:Detroit Nike store staff sing to crowd ‘We’re Nike, we’re fun’
Related: Nike store could bring other major retailers to downtown Detroit

But more than just a store opening, it suggested that downtown Detroit is on the verge of a retail renaissance, and that billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert – who bought and renovated downtown buildings – may persuade other national retailers to invest in Detroit as it recovers from bankruptcy and decades of economic strife.

Nike, recognized around the world as an athletic apparel and footwear retailer, calls its 22,000-square-foot, two-level athletic store at 1261 Woodward a community store.

From the street, it’s hard to miss the orange, Nike swoosh and banners on the side of the historic FW Woolworth Co. building near what will soon be the new hockey arena.

Inside, there are rows of shelves covered in shoes and clothes racks – some already on sale – for men, women and children, and an area with computer screens for online shopping too. The store is decorated with images of Detroit sports venues and a unique store slogan: Detroit never stops.

At least 80% of the employees – the company declined to disclose the total number of people who worked there – live within an 8 km radius, the company said.

The store also aims to offer eight grants of $5,000 to nonprofit groups.

Dennis van Oossanen, Nike’s vice president for North America Retail, said the new store was the company’s latest commitment to Michigan, calling Detroit a “special and important community” and noting that the new store would be involved in the local community.

So far, the apparel and footwear maker has only opened six more community stores nationwide, in revitalizing areas such as New Orleans, South Chicago and East Los Angeles.

Nike already has what it calls factory outlets in Auburn Hills, Birch Run, Grand Rapids and Howell.

Nike’s Community Stores aim to promote active lifestyles, events and work with community organizations that also do so. The Nike store plans to award eight grants of $5,000 each year to nonprofit groups.

Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services, which owns the store space, expects Nike to help attract other retailers to downtown.

Retailers that have opened on a stretch of Woodward between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park include high-end menswear store John Varvatos and outdoor clothing and equipment store Moosejaw.

Bob Kraemer of the Kraemer Design Group in Detroit envisions Woodward Avenue bustling with shops.

“But don’t expect to see a Gap store or an American Eagle, or any other retailer you’re more likely to see on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile,” Kraemer predicted. “Downtown will more likely be the new home of retailers recognizing and valuing the Detroit brand – the slightly quirky national brands and the more forward-thinking, trendier and more enterprising brands and retailers, both regionally and nationally. “

As customers walked through the doors this morning, they were surrounded by cheering employees and greeted like athletes entering the field.

The first 200 shoppers received free in-ear headphones and $10 store gift cards.

Maurice Young, the first guy in line, said he had been standing at the door since 2 p.m. Wednesday. The 38-year-old Detroiter wore a Pistons cap and collects Jordan shoes. He said he had over 30 pairs and was looking for the perfect ones.

“I’m here just to get a chance to see what they have,” he said, leading a long line of customers. “It’s so good for the city. It’s been a long time coming.”

Later in the store, he grabbed two shoeboxes, deciding to buy Air Jordan 11 Retros, which retailed for $129.99, or Air Foamposite Pros, which cost a bit more, $159.99. .

Some shoe styles, Nike reps confirmed, are hard to find.

Meanwhile, Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo strolled through the store, posing for photos, shaking hands and hanging out with customers.

Some of the people who lined up were fans – and alumni – of the school and the coach.

Jack Custer, 65, of Chesterfield Township stood in line wearing his alumni Spartan gear with his daughter, also a Spartan, and granddaughter, who he said was a future Spartan, and his wife, who admitted she didn’t attend MSU but was wearing gear anyway.

Izzo was also there before the store opened for a private event.

“For me, I think it helps this whole revitalization,” the coach said of the new store, “You’ve just brought another great company to a city that’s really starting to find itself. It’s going to bring people – and class.”

As a bonus, there was no University of Michigan merchandise in the store.

Although, eventually there will be some after Michigan’s contract with Adidas expires in July.

Nike Store

Nike has opened its first community store in Michigan. The community store concept aims to support volunteerism and create positive experiences through physical activity for youth and others in the community. The first community store opened in Portland, Oregon. Other community stores are in New Orleans; Chicago; Brooklyn, New York; Washington DC and East Los Angeles.

Or: FW Woolworth Co. Building; 1261 Woodward, Detroit

Cut: 22,000 square feet

Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-8pm; Sun. 10am-6pm

Phone number: 313-965-3319

Grant application: http://bit.ly/1TCy3rq

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