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Happy Friday, Doughpeheads! Today’s topic is one that’s blazing up twitter timelines and facebook newsfeeds all over the web. We’re talking about ‘sneaker riots’, the latest rash of course coming today with the release of the Nike Foamposite Galaxy. This is a sneaker that retailed for $220 and is of course limited, to the point where online prices are expected to hit as high as $2,000 and higher. Thousands of people across the country have lined up outside of sneaker stores at some point this week, some as early as Monday, for the mere chance at scooping their pair of these sneakers. As extreme and outlandish as this seems to many, this is not an uncommon phenomenon. So, as a sneakerhead myself, I want to take some time to discuss what’s going on here and some of the common criticisms charged towards both the customers and the company that releases the product, Nike.
First, let’s discuss the product and the company. Nike, one of the most successful domestic business entities the United States has ever known, whose business model and practices keep them thriving regardless of economic climate, has been under fire from media and the general public for recent outbreaks of violence over sneaker releases. The most popular being the release of the Jordan Concord XI, in which customers literally fought, stole, destroyed property and abandoned their children in their cars in parking lots for hours all for a shot to get their hands on. Extreme, irrational and illegal behavior all engaged in an effort to get your hands on a shoe? Crazy right? Eh, perhaps so. But is it Nike’s fault? I say hell no. One of my favorite lines came from a group of community leaders who urged Nike and Jordan to “lower prices and meet customer demand”. This is quite literally the most absurd thing and far fetched reaction possible and completely undermines the purpose of a business. It’s the equivalent of saying “Hey Nike, look, we realize that your product sells perfectly fine at the price point you’ve selected. We’re also aware that your target market loves your product enough to have it sell out worldwide in a matter of hours after release. But how about you completely sacrifice your business success and neglect your bottom line for the greater good of a segmented population who lacks self control?”
Let’s be clear, this is simple supply and demand and every company under the sun wants to be in a position in which demand is higher than supply. It’s one of the basic principles of business in general and especially the fashion and sneaker industries. A limited amount of product and a large amount of customers means that your target market will be willing to spend big money to be in the exclusive “I got my shit” group. That will never change. Whenever there is a limited number of product and a seemingly infinite amount of desire for said product, people will be unhappy.
Next, let’s talk about the people who stand in line and go into a frenzy over shoes. To the average person, this sounds absolutely insane. They’re just shoes, who cares? Well, if you’re a sneakerhead, you care. You also care if you’re a hypebeast, who gets far too excited about some releases when it isn’t necessary, but that’s a much deeper topic. For those who collect sneakers and live life in the pursuit of Doughpe gear, many of these sneakers do hold a legitimate tangible and intangible value. It’s really a personal pursuit, much like the nerds who stand in line for Harry Potter movie releases in their wizard costumes. In actuality, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to stand in line for sneakers than it does most things because sneakers actually sell out and when they do, the price outside of retailers can typically double, triple and even quadruple. Bottom line, if you want them, your best bet is to get them the day they come out. But beyond standing in line, why do things reach such dramatic, uncontrollable and violent levels? The popular blame goes on the fact that the staple population of customers involved in these riots are black. I’m a realist, so I won’t deny that probably doesn’t help the situation; but ultimately it goes back to supply and demand. It’s the way of the world, when one person has something that another person wants, the have not tends to get angry. See Black Friday fights at Wal-Mart, new ipad and iphone releases, the fight over the golden ticket in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory etc.
Those critical of the Sneaker culture are quick to throw out any number of gripes with those who choose to engage in the pursuit of fresh kicks. Things like:
“You can barely pay your rent, but you got them new J’s tho, huh?”
“Oh so you super fresh, but your kids look raggedy?”
^^^ Valid points of course, but let’s not pretend that sneakers are the only things people frivolously neglect their responsibilities for. This is something that’s a piece of a much larger discussion about personal responsibility, budgeting and fiscal maturity and an ability to gauge needs vs. wants. All things that Americans in general suck at and likely something we’ll discuss in great detail as The Doughpe Blog matures.
So who do you blame for the sneaker riot phenomena? Well, blame isn’t the issue in my eyes. But if we’re looking at where to find solutions to the madness, it should be addressed at the store level, not the product level. Instead of looking to punish Nike Inc. for selling legal crack, we should be finding a safer and more efficient way of distributing that crack at the street level. After all, it is the store that suffers the brunt of the damage to property and employee endangerment. Nike isn’t responsible for raising its customers into responsible human beings who can conduct themselves in a reasonable manner and while the retail stores themselves may not be able to completely negate the acts of foolery that are sure to come from big release dates, they can certainly do a much better job of preparing for and controlling the situation. In the meantime, prepare to complain and bitch and moan about more people fighting and acting an ass over sneakers that most of the general population find unattractive. Because I assure you, it will never end.-Adam Tolliver@primediscussion