Nike store could bring other major retailers to downtown Detroit

Today’s opening of the new Nike sportswear store on Woodward Avenue in the heart of Detroit signals that the decades-long drought of major downtown retailers is coming to an end.

The Nike store opens at 10am this morning at 1261 Woodward in a retail space owned by businessman Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services. The opening will follow a private event inside the store featuring Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.

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Jim Bieri, a Detroit-based retail consultant at Stokas Bieri Real Estate, said Nike’s arrival shows Gilbert’s organization is capable of reaching out to big national brands and finding a way to make them work. in the city. And it’s likely that more big names will come downtown.

“I think it’s a building block,” Bieri said. “When you tell a good part of the retail world that you have Nike, it makes a big difference.”

Dan Mullen, executive vice president of Bedrock, echoed this.

Nike “absolutely helps attract other retailers,” he said. “It’s just going to keep growing. Nike being such a big brand, everyone will want to be near Nike.

Although Nike shoes and other athletic products can be purchased at dozens of outlets in the Detroit metro area as well as online, a Nike store is yet another thing – a high-end lifestyle department store. which often becomes a destination in itself.

In Detroit, it would become the last high-end retailer along the once drab Woodward stretch between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park. Recent additions to this stretch include high-end menswear store John Varvatos. In the past, the Moosejaw outdoor clothing and equipment store opened nearby.

A store cannot circumnavigate a neighborhood by itself, and there are many other storefronts on this stretch of Woodward still empty. Mullen said Bedrock will continue to carefully select unique retailers to fill those niches.

“Our plan has always been to be very, very methodical when we retail,” Mullen said. “We want to make sure we have good collocations, brands that fit well next to each other.” The quest, he said, is to “find stores that are different and unique, that provide an experience for coming downtown and not just replicating anything in the suburbs. We really try to organize the urban experience.

Dennis van Oossanen, Nike’s vice president of North American retail, said the new store is the latest commitment to the Michigan market.

“This has been a special and important community for our brand for years,” he said in a statement. “We already have several outlets in Michigan, including Nike outlets in Auburn Hills, Birch Run, Grand Rapids and Howell. But we know our consumers, and they also live in Detroit. It was important for us to reach them where they are, and we knew that our involvement in this community would be important for them as well.

Nike last established its presence in downtown Detroit in 2004 when it occupied a small portion of an Athlete’s Foot store opened at 1448 Woodward. This store closed after a few years.

The new Woodward store will be one of Nike’s so-called community stores, signifying the company’s commitment to youth and local residents. In its community stores, Nike is committed to hiring at least 80% of its team within an 8 km radius of the location. In some places, like the Nike East Los Community store in Los Angeles, the number was almost 100%.

Nike is also committed to giving its retail staff, known as “store athletes”, time to volunteer in their local community as part of the Nike Community Ambassador program. And community stores also try to capture the spirit of a local community; in the Detroit store, artwork will feature photos of local sports scenes as well as apparel from the Detroit Tigers and Lions and MSU Spartans.

“At Nike, when evaluating community store locations, we look for places where we can make a positive contribution to a growing local community and Detroit is no exception,” van Oossanen said.

Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.

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