News

Nike store in downtown Spokane draws politically driven customers after Kaepernick ad campaign unveiled

The Nike Factory Outlet store in downtown Spokane prior to its opening earlier this summer in the former Macy’s building, now The M, in downtown Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Todd Eklof bought a Nike shirt and a hat Tuesday and both displayed the company’s signature swoosh. He put them on before he bought them, even though he’s usually against wearing corporate logos, he said.

Standing in the company’s downtown Spokane store, he recorded a video of himself on his phone for his YouTube channel.

“Even though this cap says ‘One size fits all,’ Nike obviously doesn’t believe that one size fits all, that we live in a world with a variety of people,” he said to the camera. “Nike, thanks. Great going.”

Eklof, the reverend of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, had heard the story of Nike’s ad featuring Colin Kaepernick on the radio and he thought it was courageous. He was among several customers Tuesday afternoon who said they came to the store for political reasons.

Kaepernick, former quarterback for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, is known for his kneeling protests during the national anthem protests prior to games. His message: Fair treatment of “black people and people of color.” But the move drew criticism from many Americans, offended by his lack of respect for the flag and military, they said. Kaepernick has said he wants to bring awareness to police brutality and racism, which the Nike ad featured.

Eklof came to the Nike store Tuesday specifically to support that message.

When he walked into the store, he was greeted by Nike employee Joshua Budik.

Budik wore a shirt reading “Equality” and said is proud to be a Nike employee.

“I think (Nike) had to do it. It’s what they’ve always done: go against the grain. It has nothing to do with the flag or military. It’s about equality and fair treatment.” Budik said. “It gives me butterflies.”

Budik said the store had been “pretty dead” Tuesday and he thinks it’s because of the ad campaign, but he can’t be sure.

When Eklof walked out of the store, the tags still dangled from his hat and shirt.

“I’m going to keep the tags on for a while, too,” he said as he walked away.