For nearly ten months, the iconic Nike store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Portland, Oregon has been closed. It opened in 1984 as the company's first-ever factory store. The company adapted the store to the community, hired locals and donated to local organizations. Due to safety reasons, company officials decided to close it earlier this year without confirming its closure or reopening. Until now: The Soul District Business Association (SDBA) finally announced that the store will be permanently closed.
"This news has landed like a lead balloon in our district," John Washington, president of the SDBA, said in a statement reported by local media.
This news has landed like a lead balloon in our district," John Washington, the SDBA's executive director, said in a news release. "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 requested help from the city to be able to get the store up and running to serve the public. According to emails published by the Portland Business Journal, the company asked for permission to hire off-duty police officers or to be assigned full-time uniformed officers, financed by the company itself.
Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler wasn't able to fulfill that request due to a lack of police:
As you know, current staffing levels at PPB mean that officers are frequently running between life/safety calls. The Police Bureau currently relies heavily on overtime to reach even minimum staffing levels for regular shifts.
After a lot of back-and-forth, the store decided to close down permanently. "My team and City Staff have worked tirelessly and in good faith with Nike for almost a year to offer creative solutions to their safety challenges," Wheeler said in an email released by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Crime sweeps Portland
Since city leaders cut the police budget in 2020, the crime rate has soared. In the year 2022, the city set a new homicide record with more than 90 murders.
The city lost an estimated $1 billion in taxes between 2020 and 2021, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), analyzed by Oregon Live. The data is specific to Multnomah County, where Portland is located and where about 15,000 taxpayers made the tough decision to move away.
According to prosecutor Kristin Olson, people are moving due to the rise in crime. While others blamed the coronavirus pandemic, Olson argues that this is not to blame because after the restrictions ended, people have returned to cities, just not to Portland.
People aren't the only ones leaving the city. Retailers like Walmart and Cracker Barrel have also shut down stores. Nike is the latest company to close shop in Portland.