The Air Jordan Shoe Problem: Shoe Releases Shouldn’t Be Dangerous

While I have always been a fan of the Jordan Shoe franchise, its only recently that I have become closely involved with what happens when they actually hit stores on release day. Now to be honest, I have seen the stories and watched reports on television about the chaos and violence that can ensue when a new pair of Jordans are released, but it’s another thing to see it up close and personal. In the most recent instance, Nike released the Air Jordan Retro 12 yesterday and a scene that has played out much too often happened again. As soon as stores and malls opened, mobs of people rushed them and it got so out of hand that they had to literally close the mall and bring in a hefty police presence. This is a shoe release right?


So here’s my issue with Nike and MJ, this has been happening for more than 20 years and they have yet to do anything about it. They absolutely know what will happen when they release retro pairs of the more popular Jordans and yet they have done nothing to change how they release these shoes. I mean in the past people have gotten robbed or badly hurt while trying to get a pair of the popular sneakers. The biggest question I have for Nike is…WHY? Why in 2012 are they still releasing their shoes like this knowing full well the scene that will play out at malls all across the country? I can’t really think of another shoe that a different strategy for release is needed for but when it comes to Jordans the normal rules do not apply.

Nike is in the business to make money and Jordan shoe aficionado’s want to fill like the kicks they are rocking are somewhat exclusive. The fact is that Nike could change this and not only create a safer environment but make more money and we know they would love that. Here are a few things I think that Nike could do to make sure that scenes like this stop happening.


This is perhaps the most extreme option but there is no denying that it would instantly remove the danger around the release of  brand new Jordans. No more mobs of people camping out around malls and stores, no more chaos and violence as hundreds of people rush to try to get to the store to get their size. In this scenario, Nike wouldn’t release the most popular versions in stores, they would come out online only. To make up for the lack of retail availability, Nike could increase the amount of pairs that are available online. They would still sell out of them within minutes, they would still be exclusive enough to make them worth wearing because there would still be a limit to how many were available. From Nike’s standpoint it wouldn’t really matter to them because they would still make the same amount of money if not more. The only downside to this scenario in my opinion is that it puts those without internet access at a significant disadvantage.


I can preorder damn near anything, why can’t I preorder a shoe? In this scenario, Nike would actually allow customers to pre-order the shoe in an effort to further alleviate strain on stores and their online systems. They could set up a quota for pre-orders which would only allow a specified number. In this scenario, the shoes would still be sold at retail but by allowing folks to pre-order it could take several hundred people out of the crowds.


Aftermath of Space Jam Jordan release


In this scenario, customers could preorder their Jordans ahead of time at any point up to 2 months ahead of release but not more than 4 months out. You could walk in on any regular day and pay in full for your pair. Once the shoe is released, you would have two weeks to come in a pick up your shoes. This way there are no crowds and you don’t have to worry about walking out of the store on release date and worrying about your safety and trust me in some areas you have to if there isn’t a significant police presence.


So I don’t normally like to get into the fray of these things but yesterday while we were standing outside of our local mall as 4 or 5 police held back the hundreds of people in the crowd, we called one of the stores in the mall and were told that they were already out of every size except 12. If at that point the store no longer had any more of the most popular sizes, why not quickly communicate that fact which would disperse most of the crowd still waiting outside. Now I realize that there is a flaw in being told from someone working in the store that they are out, which is that there are several instances in which personnel that work in the stores “hold” pairs of shoes for their friends and family. The dirty little secret about this is that hundreds of people show up but most stores don’t have several hundred pair of each size in stock meaning several hundred people aren’t going to get what they want, why not just tell people that. The This one isn’t perfect but it could definitely help clear some confusion.

So this is definitely a tough issue and I don’t know if there are any easy answers. The truth is though that Nike is big enough, smart enough, and has the money and technology to put a system in place that makes releasing these shoes safer and more efficient. There is no reason to put the safety of the store staff or the customers in danger when you have the ability to change the way the release of your product is handled. The problem is that Nike and Michael Jordan have managed to stay pretty clean when issues occur around the release of their most popular shoe and that has to stop. Too often the store or the malls get the brunt of it when the fact of the matter is that Nike has to do better. Until they get called to the carpet about this, they will continue to ignore public safety and keep raking in the dollars.

But that’s just me, I want to hear from all you Air Jordan aficionados and fanatics out there, do you think that the current model needs to change? Do serious Jordan collectors even go to the store anymore or do they either order online or have some kind of inside connection? Hit up the comments and let us know what you think.

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