Nike announced the permanent closure of its factory store in northeast Portland, Oregon, on Friday due to ongoing “theft and safety issues” after nearly 40 years of business on the city’s northeast side, according to a non-profit that supports economic and business development in the neighborhood.
The Soul District Business Association (SBDA) reported the footwear and apparel store’s decision during a phone call with local media, calling the decision a “major economic blow.”
“This news has landed like a lead balloon in our district,” John Washington, the SDBA’s executive director, said in a news release. “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,” Washington added.
The Nike Community Store reportedly opened in June 1984 after Portland civil rights activists worked to bring the shoe brand’s first-ever factory store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, formerly Union Avenue. According to local media, the area was once the center of the city’s black population.
The economic driver for the section of the Pacific Northwest city became “one of the first area businesses to stand up and declare Northeast Portland as a viable community to do business in,” Ron Herndon, who led the Black United Front, reportedly said in a 2004 Nike press release.
But after Portland defunded its police department in 2020, local business owners affected by the crime and property destruction struggled to maintain safety and security. Nike officials reportedly closed the store down more than six months ago before finalizing plans to close and vacate permanently.
Earlier this year, Nike requested that city officials provide off-duty police officers for security purposes at the company’s store in northeast Portland, but Mayor Ted Wheeler reportedly declined, citing a staffing shortage from the Portland Police Bureau.
Wheeler told local media he was “very disappointed” in a statement on Friday about the closure, saying his office and city officials “worked tirelessly and in good faith with Nike for almost a year to offer creative solutions to their safety challenges.”
Nike officials told Fox News Digital it cares “deeply about Portland’s North and Northeast community,” adding it has provided brand “access and connection” to the district for roughly four decades “while serving as a catalyst for change through volunteerism, investments and partnerships with non-profit organizations that benefit the community.”
“Nike’s commitment to supporting and uplifting Portland’s North and Northeast community is unwavering. We are reimagining Nike’s retail space, permanently closing our current location at 2650 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and considering future locations as part of this community’s long term revitalization plan,” the company said.
“True to our roots, we will seek the input of local community organizations and leaders to determine the best new location. As we plan ahead, we are keeping the best interest of our employees at heart, providing them options to continue to be part of the Nike family,” it added.