“You can see how the world is like changing, people killing over sneakers.” – Cousin of shooting victim Montre Bradley
Montre Bradley wasn’t killed for his sneakers, but he might as well have been. Two thugs who learned people were waiting in line to buy $220 Nike Foamposites robbed the customers of cash and other items. Someone, perhaps Bradley, struggled, shots were fired and Bradley was killed.
So called “sneaker riots” have broken out when new models are released. Sneaker frenzies are nothing new, but social media and the ability to sell limited editions at huge markups on eBay are adding fuel to the fire. Things got so bad, Nike recently gave retailers instructions on how to avoid problems, including not opening at midnight and creating online reservations via Twitter.
Nike has gotten a tremendous amount of criticism over sneaker-related violence. The Urban League has asked Nike to hold off on selling $315 LeBron shoes. Columnists across the country are decrying sneaker materialism. One columnist likened Nike to a drug dealer:
…what the billion dollar shoe company hustles isn’t drugs or even sneakers. It trades in cool.
…trading in cool comes at a cost. The price is the financial well being of those who line Nike’s soles and those who keep Nike paid and those who are willing to rob and steal just to be the king. The economy continues to fall apart, unemployment rates are through the roof and Nike knows that the kids are strung out. So they just keep mass marketing high-priced cool to those who can’t afford it.
For years now, sneaker fiends have been getting beaten and robbed for their coveted dope. Recently the release of the Nike Foamposite Galaxy’s caused riots from Florida to Maryland. Sneakerheads were rumbling to get their hands on the newest fix, but does Nike increase supply? Nope. Do they drop the prices to make the shoes more accessible? Nope.
In fact, Nike tells the stores to keep their corner in check and beef up security to make sure they keep things civil.
We all spend money on things we don’t need and can’t afford. We all spend money on things that serve no other purpose than to make us feel good. Expensive sneaker-buying gets criticized because of Nike’s perceived exploitation of urban youth. The Atlantic Wire wrote:
…we step onto rubber soles and become Michael Jordan, or Joey Ramone. But there’s a difference between the two — and even today, it’s the difference between a harmless lace-up and a paycheck-obliterating, riot-causing fetish object.
Once again, it all comes down to who companies are marketing to — and how they choose to treat the consumer.
Bradley’s killers saw an opportunity to prey on innocent people. How did these criminals know the customers had so much cash? Ask Nike.
Links of the Day:
– Jean-Claude Brizard is getting blamed for a possible teacher strike in Chicago and could be out of a job. He’s mainly faulted for his communication skills, something that dogged him in Rochester. He either really messed up or is being set up as the fall guy.
– Is the Inn on Broadway in trouble? It owes $140,000 in back taxes.