The Nike Factory Store in the Eliot neighborhood of Northeast Portland is permanently closing, as reported by the Soul District Business Association (SDBA). Despite community efforts to save the store, it was unable to overcome the challenges posed by increasing theft and safety concerns in a neighborhood heavily impacted by the pandemic aftermath. The closure of the flagship store on Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is expected to have a detrimental effect on the struggling small businesses in the area, according to the SDBA.
When it first opened in 1984, the Nike Factory Store was the company’s inaugural factory store and a significant investment in a historically Black neighborhood. It played a crucial role in showcasing Northeast Portland as a viable community for business, as highlighted by Ron Herndon, former leader of the Black United Front. However, his perspective has now changed. Herndon expressed his belief that City Hall lacks the necessary skills and creativity to address major issues affecting not only the Black community but all of Portland, as stated in a recent interview with The Oregonian. Nike declined to comment on the closure.
Throughout its operation, the store had been a repeated target for theft. Portland Police Bureau records obtained by WW last October indicated a total of 276 reported instances of shoplifting at the factory store in 2022 alone. Despite hopes that Nike, city officials, and community leaders would find a way to overcome these challenges and reach a solution, it appears that the closure marks the end, as shared by John Washington, the executive director of the SDBA.