I really tried to come up with some clever title here. Honestly, I sat there and debated what cheesy slug to go with for this week’s column. But, no. Not this one. This is a less-than-happy post.
As much as I love sneakers, there’s an unavoidable dark side to the culture. We have horrible crimes. People are being worked like machines. All of this while prices for most coveted sneakers continue to rise. At that level, things are grim in sneaker culture. But, Black Friday is always a good occasion to see something else. Namely, it reminds me of a fundamental problem we have as consumers.
One of the go-to tricks of footwear advertising is manufacturing scarcity. Basically, increase demand and even outright create it where it once wasn’t. Some of it is entirely ethical, most of it is currently dancing along that fine line. But, the moral debate isn’t what’s important here. It’s the objective results.
Every year, Black Friday displays those results in sneaker stores and outlets all over the country. As with other products and shops, people line up at ungodly hours and wait to feast on sautéed prices. Then, the madness ensues. Every year, there’s a story about yet another armed attempt at sneaker theft. Every year, we see people go to unspeakable lengths to get minimal discounts on the hottest shoes. Every. Single. Year. And frankly, it’s not getting any less aggravating.
The most recent example of this has befuddled me. At a Nike Outlet in Seattle, innumerable fans rushed over. No doubt, they were all looking to grab a great pair at an incredible price. What they left in their wake was shameful. Hundreds of boxes were strewn across the outlet’s floor, mixed in with garbage and lord knows what else. Why would they do this, you ask? Well, for the Black Friday sales of course. After all, I can’t have someone else get in on those huge discounts before me!
It turns out that hell on earth was raised…for 25% off.
So, let’s take this bit by bit. First, and unquestionably foremost, there are no circumstances in which this is ok. Now..
Really, folks? 25% off? My problem isn’t even with that figure, it’s that this is an outlet store (you know, that place that gets all the shoes other stores couldn’t get off shelves?). These signs of a struggle between dinosaurs are left because someone really needs those Alternate 89 Air Jordan 5’s. I don’t know if there’s a more perplexing and depressing summary I could’ve gone with there.
The larger point here has to be that wee need to, for lack of a better term, chill the hell out. We shouldn’t be submitting to savagery just because we see a Sale sign. But the fact that it was a Nike outlet mall? You can cry about lack of quality in Jordans all you want, folks. The fact of the matter is that we’ll buy just about any low-quality thing Nike peddles us, and they know it.
Do better, folks.