Finding Graceland

by August 12, 2008

By Matt Caputo

Word around Beaverton, Oregon is that Nike employees can’t even get their parents into the exclusive “employees” store. Located on a remote location not too far from Nike’s “Global Headquarters Campus,” the Employee Store serves up a sizable discount on many of their freshest products. As an invited guest of the Swoosh, in town for the second annual Nike Global Challenge, a few members of the media, including myself, were made exception to Nike’s strict admission rules.

Many media members and scouts, including many SLAM staffers, have been to the store before. In fact, even my brother, who is a college coach, beat me to the spot. But this was the first time I’d been invited to come shop in the store that serves the Nike’s extended staff and the 6,500 folks who work on the Beaverton campus. I wasn’t the only one in awe of the sick selection and generous mark-down. basketball analyst, Jerry Meyer, saw me snap a picture of the storefront sign with my point-and-click and asked me if I was trying to get a picture of the “pearly gates.” It was pretty heavenly, when I came in just under my personal spending cap of $300 but other members of our seven man media crew balled out even harder. ESPN’s Chris Lawlor went exclusively for golf gear, while Evan Daniels of copped everything twice in both colors. Ryan Canner-O’Mealy from RISE reminded me to get something for my girlfriend. It was the highlight of an already awesome weekend of hoops and hanging.

I myself stocked up on some Dri-fit socks and picked up a pair of Olympic hoops practice shorts. My favorite of the non-sneaker items I got was a USA Basketball warm-up jacket. It was so crispy that about half of our group got one of the navy blue joints with the American flag on the left side of the chest and the swoosh on the other. With all the traveling I did on Friday and Monday, I might as well have headed to Bejing.

When it came to kicks I picked up a pair of Nike Zoom Sharkley in black with a hint of blue on the souls and some vintage Dunk Highs in white and black. The Sharkley shoes got props from peeps the entire weekend while the Highs are an identical replacement for a pair I had during college. I couldn’t find one set of Hyperdunks left in my size in any color and was not able to text SLAM Senior Editor Khalid Salaam about how awesome they are to play ball in. However, I didn’t let it ruin my trip, I have enough basketball shoes to play in but never enough to wear with jeans and the Sharkley pair help fill that void a bit.

Having heard so much about how hard it was to get into the Nike Employee store, and having failed on a previous trip myself to gain access, it was great to actually get up in it. The selection of kicks was about the same as a Nike outlet store someplace, however the up to the moment Nike threads were greatly discounted and separated by various sports besides hoops. The visit to the store made the long flight and connections all well worth it.

While I don’t think the Employee Store will ever be open to the public, just hope that if you’re ever reincarnated you come back and find a job working for The Swoosh.