Nike permanently closes iconic Portland store amid 'theft and safety issues'

"It looks like it's game over."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Nike has officially closed an iconic Portland store due to the city's rampant crime and retail theft. This after the athletic shoe giant had hoped to reopen its location on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd after making the decision to temporarily close the store earlier this year.

In February, Nike went to great lengths to try to salvage its MLK Community Store and sent a letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city officials asking for more police presence to combat ongoing retail theft. The company was open to creating an "intergovernmental agreement" with the city of Portland to directly fund full-time police officers who would be selected to police the store or would pay off-duty Portland Police Bureau officers as contracted security.

That request was denied by the city due to the police department's detrimental staffing crisis, and now the famous staple is yet another store that has succumbed to the crime-ridden city.

The Soul District Business Association confirmed the location was closing on Friday, calling it "a major economic blow," according to Willamette Week.

"This news has landed like a lead balloon in our district," said John Washington, the SDBA's executive director, according to Fox News. "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."

Nike, which had first opened the MLK location in 1984, told Fox News in a statement that although it had decided to permanently shutter the store, the company hopes to open a future Portland location in an area that hasn't been hit by crime.

"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," Nike added.

Upon sending the city of Portland a request for help, Nike said the company was reevaluating the location on MLK and had released a statement saying: "Because a safe and secure workplace is essential for our employees, consumers, and communities, we have proposed a sustained and coordinated partnership with the City to better protect employees, consumers, and the community surrounding our MLK Community Store."

However, Nike's request to the city never came to fruition.

According to police records obtained by Willamette Week, the Portland Police Bureau received 276 reports of shoplifting at the factory store in 2022 alone.
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