Young shoppers, most wearing Nike sneakers in fluorescent colors such as electric blue, neon yellow and hot pink, rushed headlong Thursday into the newly remodeled Nike Las Vegas store. The hundred-plus group of Nike fans headed straight for the expanded basketball section, where the objects of their desire waited on display.
The sneakerheads had arrived.
Nike Las Vegas unveiled its remodeled store inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Thursday, which includes 30,000 square-feet of consumer space. The rest of the complex is a 20,000-square-foot office suite and warehouse. Nike is celebrating its grand opening through the weekend.
During the first 30 minutes of its opening, teens and young men bagged the latest LeBron James and Kobe Bryant-brand sneakers on the market, paying an average of $160 per pair.
Jonathan Reyes drove from Los Angeles for Nike's grand reopening event. With plans to purchase three pairs of the basketball shoes, he was contemplating a fourth addition to his collection.
Reyes said he's drawn to the bright colors of the shoes, but it's their exclusivity that makes him drive hundreds of miles and cross state lines to shop.
"They're limited, so eventually they'll sell out and they don't re-stock them," Reyes said.
Nike spokeswoman Jacie Prieto said the store's basketball section deliberately was expanded to make room for large numbers of customers the store anticipates during new releases. Nike Las Vegas communicates its sneaker releases via its Facebook page.
"It can get extremely chaotic," running specialist Jackie Cardenas said. "But we love it."
Cardenas has worked at Nike Las Vegas for 10 months, and she knows most of the local sneakerheads by name.
Marchello Gutierrez is one.
When he arrived at Nike Las Vegas, Gutierrez was wearing sneakers available in Europe, sent to him by a friend. Soon he was holding two oversized shopping bags stuffed with five shoeboxes. Cardenas and Gutierrez chatted like old friends. She said he's in the store once a month for the latest releases.
"I'm a sneakerhead," he said. "I come for the exclusive shoes. I've been wearing them forever. Once you get hooked, you can't get off."
Prieto said, "It's a lifestyle."
Gutierrez engages in a practice referred to as "rock one, stock one," which is common among hard-core fans who buy one pair to wear, and one to add to their collection.
"That's a win-win for the consumers and us," Prieto said. "This is a very tailored product offering."
Reyes, too, purchased shoes to keep in a collection. But, he said he may resell them at a markup.
"Right now, these are sold out in L.A. I could sell them for between $200 and $250," Reyes said. "They could, eventually, go up to $300. You could double your money."
In addition to its enlarged basketball section, the new Nike Las Vegas features NIKEiD, which lets people customize apparel, footwear and sports equipment and new runner's services through Nike+, a technology that lets runners track their distance, pace and calories burned. There is also an expanded women's section, and other niche segments including soccer, tennis and training.
Contact reporter Laura Emerson at email@example.com or 702-380-4588.