Brunswig’s Shoe Store has carried Nike products since the 1970s, but earlier this month, the multinational corporation informed one of its original carriers it would no longer distribute to it.
“I knew it was happening,” said store owner Eric Brunswig. “You just read stuff about little stores getting shut down by the big corporation, so I wasn’t entirely surprised. Nike has been a pain in the back to deal with the last few years, anyway. I knew it was coming — that’s why I’m not as upset. I love the support we are getting from people on Facebook, but it was in the wind. We knew it was going to happen.”
Brunswig is the fourth generation of his family to run the local store, which opened in the late 1800s. On Sept. 4, he received a letter from Nike that said the corporation would not permit him to carry the brand after Nov. 4 of this year.
“Accordingly, by this letter, Nike provides notice that your account will be closed as of November 4, 2018,” the letter reads. “From and after the date of this letter, Nike will accept no new orders (inclusive of Nike and Brand Jordan products) and will also cancel any outstanding orders. After the closing date we request that you cease using any Nike or Jordan graphics, fixtures, or other marketing assets in connection with your business.”
Brunswig said he was wearing Nikes in the 1970s, and that his store carried the first Air Jordan in 1984. In recent years, though, Nike did not make its higher-end products available to Brunswig.
“Nothing against Big 5 or Fred Meyer, but that’s the stuff we were being offered now,” Brunswig said. “No more Air Jordans, no more Air Maxes, no more of basically anything over $85. I couldn’t find a shoe available to us for over $85 retail. Not that cost has anything to do with it, but my customers want the Air Maxes, they want the Air Jordans they want the Air Forces — the high-end running shoes.”
When Brunswig asked Nike why the more expensive shoes weren’t available to him anymore, the corporation didn’t give him a clear answer.
“They just weren’t making that available to me anymore — no reasoning,” Brunswig said. “I asked a sales rep about it and they said the way Nike structures their marketing — this, that — just a whole bunch of crap. We’re not good enough for them anymore.”
Brunswig didn’t know what percentage of his store is currently Nike product.
“It’s a pretty good percentage,” Brunswig said. “It’s gone down the last few years. It’s been so hard to get the stuff we want from Nike that we dropped our orders down or just ordered stuff that’s not as high mark up, just basic stuff. So I couldn’t put a dollar on it.”
Regardless, Brunswig still has to sell the Nike products that are already in his store.
“I have to sell it,” Brunswig said. “It’s my stuff. If nobody buys it, nobody buys it. It sits on the shelf until somebody comes along and buys it. That’s the problem I’m going to run into now. If everybody in town boycotts Nike, I’m still going to have Nikes on the shelves that I’ve paid for and have to get rid of. Nike doesn’t buy stuff back.”
The letter didn’t give Brunswig a reason for the change, other than that the store no longer fit with the corporation’s “distribution strategy.”
“That’s a lot of big words for saying ‘you’re just too small to deal with anymore,’ in my opinion,” Brunswig said. “... I didn’t call Nike or anything. When I read the letter, I figured something like that was going to happen eventually. I’m honestly surprised it took this long, just because I heard about it two, three years ago that it was happening to other stores.”