The Nike Community Store has been closed for weeks due to theft

Nike’s first factory outlet, which opened in 1984 on MLK Jr. Blvd., has always had problems with theft, but recently shoplifting has reached new heights.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Nike Community Store in northeast Portland is filled with neatly folded shirts, racks of activewear and rows of Nike shoes — but no customers. The store quietly closed weeks ago and the company won’t say when or if it will reopen. Nike did not respond to three separate emails.

“Closed for the next 7 days,” Nike said on its website. The same message has appeared since the end of October. Despite the notice posted online, customers show up at the store almost every day.

“There’s nothing on the door. It doesn’t say anything,” Carmelleta Nash-Pronold said after finding the Nike store closed on a recent weekday afternoon. “Usually stores let you know what’s going on.”

Several people associated with the Nike Community store said theft has always been a problem at the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard site, although shoplifting has recently reached new heights.

Criminals have become more brazen – stealing armfuls of Nike merchandise and walking out the front door without fear of arrest.

RELATED: We’ve Witnessed Shoplifting at Nike, Home Depot, and Target, and No One Stopped It

Security guards hired by Nike have admitted that they are prohibited from physically arresting shoplifters. The strict policy, adopted by most major retailers, aims to protect employees and shoppers from harm. There is also a risk of prosecution if someone is injured.

Surveillance video from outside the New Song Community Church, which sits around the cat corner of the Nike Community Store, showed people fleeing the store this summer with stolen shoes and clothing.

“It’s obvious they’ve stolen something and they’re looking to dump it somewhere,” said Pastor Paul Greenidge of New Song Community Church.

Police and retailers complain that shoplifting or organized retail crime is a citywide epidemic, fueled largely by drug abuse.

A KGW analysis of citywide crime data found that since 2019, the Nike Community store reported 437 cases of shoplifting to police, second only to the Mall 205 Target store, which reported 650 cases of shoplifting.

Retailers believe Portland’s shoplifting statistics are lower than the actual numbers because most stores don’t bother to file police reports.

Over the past four months, several Portland businesses have closed due to crime and safety concerns, including a Cracker Barrel in Jantzen Beach and nearby Stanford’s Restaurant & Bar, as well as a few Starbucks locations.

RELATED: Jantzen Beach Stanford’s Follows Cracker Barrel in Closing Due to Safety Concerns

The Nike Community Store is particularly notable because of its history.

Portland community leader Ron Herndon and the Black United Front approached Nike 38 years ago and urged the company to build its first-ever outlet store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, then called Union Ave. It was an area plagued by crime and violence.

“Many attribute the development that has started happening on MLK to Nike’s commitment,” Herndon explained.

When the Nike Portland Factory Store opened in June 1984, it pledged to donate a portion of the store’s profits to community nonprofits.

“Those who buy here and buy here, spend money here will see some of that profit going back to the community,” a Nike executive said in KGW archive footage of the store’s grand opening.

The Nike Factory store was run by former Portland Trail Blazer Larue Martin and sold “B-grade items, closeouts and odds and ends,” according to a March 1984 article in The Oregonian newspaper.

In 2000, the Nike Factory Store moved to its current location after overtaking the store’s original location just two blocks north.

In 2006, Nike invested $1.2 million in the North and Northeast Portland community, a company says Press release.

“It’s not just me. So many people in the community are proud of it,” said Herndon, director of Albina Head Start in Portland.

Herndon said he fears ongoing theft issues at the Nike Community Store will jeopardize his future.

“Criminals don’t care about history,” he said.

Herndon said he believes the lack of police resources and prosecutions have allowed criminals to tear at the fabric of this community.

“What’s happening with Nike is very symptomatic of what’s happening with people, organizations and businesses all over Portland,” he said. “Until the city finds an answer to this, I don’t see it going away.”

About Shirley Dickson

Check Also

Where to buy the Nike Air Max Scorpion “Wolf Grey” shoes? Price, release date and more details explored

Earlier this year, the Swoosh label debuted their all-new Nike Air Max Scorpion silhouette. After …