James Whitner delivered exceptional experiences at two of his Atlanta banners ahead of Super Bowl 53: an Adidas x Bape pop-up with Social Status and a week of programming with Nike at A Ma Maniére. While they were stellar and pulled off seamlessly, Whitner admitted he, along with the brands, went to great lengths to pull them off.
With the big game underway, the man behind the two beloved boutique retailers shared with FN what he learned about the events. Here are three key takeaways.
Come Equipped With a Plan (and Be Flexible)
“You can’t work with big brands unless you have a plan, and it takes at least nine months to a year in advance. You have to have a sharp point of view and a strategy and be on the same page to be able to execute at this level. We’ve been talking to Bape for over a year and Nike the same. Things changed [with Adidas and Bape] at the end because we didn’t think we were going to have a pop-up space, we just planned to have some stuff exclusive to our Atlanta store. At the last minute they came in and wanted to do a pop-up space so we decided to do it. You’ve got to be really connected with those guys and tightly woven for it to make sense.”
You’re Going to Need a Big Team
“This is not something you could execute if you don’t have the manpower on the ground. We have two stores and a pop-up open. You can’t spread yourself too thin. We brought our staff from other markets that’s relatively close to Atlanta. Plus, Nike’s agency brought down some people. It takes a lot; it takes agency help, it takes our team — there’s multiple teams of people on the ground.”
Be Prepared to Spend
“[The investment] was huge because if nothing else you’ve got to have the inventory. And the build outs, you’ve got to partner with the brands and create a strategy that makes sense. Big events like this take huge investments, hundreds of thousands of dollars, even bordering millions to get events right. It’s a huge investment across all parties.”
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