The Brooklyn Nets won NBA free agency. The franchise has experienced its share of struggles since defecting from New Jersey in 2012, but yesterday it landed three megastars — highlighted by the signing of two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
And area sneaker retailers said the addition of Nike-backed Durant has the borough buzzing.
“Kids [in the store] yesterday were like, ‘I’ve got to get season tickets,’ and people were trying on Brooklyn Nets jerseys,” Susan Boyle, owner of sneaker boutique Rime, told FN. “It’s going to bring people more back into Brooklyn, it’s going to be so exciting to have a team that means something.”
That excitement, according to Boyle, is sure to attract more consumers.
“It’s going to bring traffic to the streets. I’m right on Atlantic Avenue and a lot of people go around where I am to eat and to go to the games,” Boyle said. “They park their car on Atlantic and walk up because we’re only a 10-minute walk. And tourists are going to come more, you’re going to get more activity in the neighborhoods around Barclays [Center].”
Although the news isn’t 24-hours old, retailers are getting ready to plan for Durant’s arrival. One store chain that will work to capitalize on the moment is Foot Locker, which has 23 stores across its multiple banners throughout the borough.
“We will localize product assortments, which would pertain to his shoes and jerseys, and we have the likes of our House of Hoops doors that we will make sure are visually merchandised and refreshed with artwork that’s focused on KD,” explained Foot Locker chief merchandising officer Andy Gray. “Local community marketing managers will be working with this to better story tell and get strong content out there, and when [Durant] comes into market that gives us the opportunity to work with him.”
But will one of the league’s best coming to the Big Apple have an impact on sales? For apparel, the belief is yes.
“Traditionally, there’s a licensed pickup because there’s a call to action on a new product, there’s potentially a new jersey and a new number, so we would see a licensed pickup for sure,” Gray said. “That’s relatively standard with player moves.”
And Boyle agrees.
“Apparel is going to be strong because [customers] are going to be able to represent the team for short money, not having to spend $200 on a shoe,” Boyle said.
However, there is uncertainty surrounding Durant signature sneaker sales.
“Footwear [sales] would be very similar to what was there before. You would see some impact in footwear — and I’m assuming that this is coming — when [Nike] starts weaving in specific stories that are unique to Brooklyn, we would then see a pickup there,” Gray said. “Nike does a really good job of taking the asset as well as local stories and weaving them together, that’s been a blueprint of their basketball storytelling. That could be an opportunity. Without that, you’re just relying on a little bit more exposure on KD to sell.”
The former Golden State Warrior is one of the few pro ballers to have a Nike signature shoe franchise. His latest look, the Zoom KD 12, is in stores now and retails for $150.
Despite the buzz around the sport and its biggest stars, the basketball sneaker market is struggling.
Logic dictates that today’s basketball boom would translate to the sneaker business. But it hasn’t, and despite the obvious popularity, experts say that even a banner playoffs season won’t save the struggling basketball shoe market.
As of May, according to data provided by The NPD Group Inc., the category — which has been in decline for years — is down 21% in 2019.
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