In an unexpected turn of events, Nike, one of the nation’s most prominent brands, is shutting the doors of its iconic Factory Store in Northeast Portland’s Eliot neighborhood. The decision comes as the store grappled with a growing wave of crime, leading to a dire impact on its business operations and the safety of its employees.
This particular store holds a special place in Nike’s history, being the company’s first-ever factory store and its initial significant investment in a predominantly black neighborhood back in 1984. It symbolized Nike’s commitment to fostering communities while offering high-quality products. Sadly, it is now becoming another casualty of the crime-infested environment in the city.
The closure of the Nike Factory Store has left residents of the area disheartened. Many had implored Nike to reconsider its decision, arguing that the store’s departure would further harm an already struggling small business community in the region. However, despite these passionate pleas, Nike made the painful but necessary choice to close its doors permanently, as the crime problem showed no signs of abating.
To address the mounting crime issue, Nike had approached Mayor Wheeler’s office, requesting off-duty police officers to help secure the store. Regrettably, their request was met with a resounding refusal. Mayor Wheeler justified his decision, stating that the city couldn’t spare dedicated off-duty officers due to a shortage of police personnel. This left Nike with no choice but to take its leave.
The departure of the Nike Factory Store is a significant blow to the Soul District Business Association and the local community. John Washington, the executive director of the association, expressed his disappointment, saying, “This news has landed like a lead balloon in our district. We had all been holding our breath since last November when the store quietly shuttered its doors due to internal and external theft and safety issues. But, like so many of us riding out the fallout of the pandemic and protests, we held out hope that Nike, city officials, and community leaders would recalibrate and realign order. But it looks like it’s game over.”
Yet, the core issue for Nike remains unchanged: rampant crime, including frequent shoplifting incidents that led to more than 200 police reports in 2022 alone. These criminal activities resulted in substantial retail losses and created an unsafe working environment for Nike’s employees at the MLK store, leaving them with no choice but to close shop.
Despite the closure of this historic store, Nike has expressed its commitment to continue supporting and uplifting Portland’s North and Northeast community. The company is actively exploring options for reinvestment in the area as part of the long-term revitalization plan.
This decision by Nike has sparked a broader conversation about the challenges facing businesses in crime-ridden areas. It raises questions about the responsibility of city officials to ensure the safety and security of businesses and their employees. In an era where political ideologies often clash, this incident serves as a reminder that even the most woke brands can’t escape the harsh realities of running a business in a crime-infested blue city within a blue state.
As the Nike Factory Store closes its doors for the last time, it leaves behind a legacy of what could have been—a symbol of hope and prosperity in a community striving for better days. It’s a stark reminder that, despite good intentions, the forces of crime and safety concerns can overpower even the most well-meaning endeavors. Nike’s departure is a somber reflection of the challenges facing businesses across the nation and the imperative for local authorities to take action in addressing crime issues to safeguard our communities and livelihoods.