“I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality” – The Clash 1979
The day preceding Xmas Eve caused chaos in certain stores across the USA as ‘sneaker heads’ turned riotous. It’s impossible to imagine how sane individuals could get so excited and competitive regarding the sale of a basketball training shoe, but nowhere other than America could the strange dichotomy between; rich and poor, the haves and the have nots, those on food stamps and those with plenty, be illustrated more crudely than the visceral emotions on display as USA citizens fought between themselves for the right to own the latest pair of ‘retro’ Nike Air Jordan’s.
Is it ironic or a strange juxtaposition that in the land where the Occupy Wall Street movement is being deliberately down played such an event should occur? The USA has a national debt of over $15 trillion dollars and rising by circa $50 bl per week, 1.5 million are homeless, circa ten million jobs have been lost since 2008, individual states and cities are declaring bankruptcy, over 400 banks have failed since 2008 and yet passion becomes more inflamed with regards to sneaker status anxiety than the overall deterioration of the country’s economy and social cohesion. When witnessing such events it’s understandable why political agnostics simply ‘give up’ on their fellow countrymen and women, at times there appears to be no answer and little point in fighting their cause…
The sale of the new Nike retro Air Jordans led to chaos in multiple locations across America. But it was in Seattle that the situation appeared to be most out of hand. Police had to use pepper spray on approx. twenty shoppers at a Seattle mall, while officers arrested at least four unruly shoppers in suburban Atlanta. The list of cities where mayhem ensued was alarming. Police were called to shopping centres in Indiana, Florida, Texas and Virginia to control crowds of hundreds lining up for the shoes.
People started gathering from midnight at four stores in in Seattle to buy the shoes retailing for $180 a pair. The crowd grew to over 1,000 by 4 am. Around 3 a.m. there was fighting and pushing amongst customers, by 4 am, officers used pepper spray to break them up.
But it was In Richmond, Calif. that the most bizarre incident occurred as a man was arrested after firing a gun while waiting in line.
“I don’t understand why they’re so important to people. They’re just shoes at the end of the day. It’s not worth risking your life over.” – Seattle shopper..
The Air Jordan XI Retro “Concord” sneakers, costing $180 retail, are based on a design that went on sale in 1995. The shoes are on eBay for $605. Adding to frenzied demand some stores were given as few as 12 pairs each.
In Lithona, Ga., up to 20 squad cars responded after a large crowd broke down a door to get inside before a store opened. Police officers took four into custody. Officers said they broke a car window to get two toddlers out after a woman went in after the shoes. They said she was taken into custody when she returned to the car.
In Arlington, Va., a crowd waited outside the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall which let in a few buyers at midnight and then a few at 6 am. Police arrived to control crowds, many customers left angry and empty handed.
At St. Charles Towne Center in Waldorf, Md., people pushed open the doors at several entrances to the mall. Initially they lined up outside the six stores but began pushing each other, trying to keep their places in line, the scene turned chaotic. No individual stores were broken into. Officers arrested four juveniles and one adult for disorderly conduct.
In Dayton, Ohio, fights broke out among shoppers outside a store, and some people sold their spots in line.
In Indianapolis, Ind., hundreds stampeded a store, a few losing shoes and jackets along the way. One girl was nearly trampled, WTHR TV reported. “I actually jumped over the girl that fell. There was a few people on the ground but I jumped over ’em and kept running,” said one shopper. Another shopper said she “was able to be the first one in, but I kinda hit my hand on the door. I was bleeding but it’s all good. It was worth it.”
In Taylor, Mich., about 100 people forced their way into a shopping centre around 5:30 a.m., damaging decorations and overturning benches. One man was arrested.
It’s not the first time the Nikes have caused an uproar. Some people were mugged or even killed for early versions of the Air Jordan shoe, which Nike Inc. created in 1985.
Nike, based in Beaverton, Ore., issued a statement Friday afternoon saying:
We are extremely concerned to hear of the reported crowd incidents. Consumer safety and security is of paramount importance. We encourage anyone wishing to purchase our product to do so in a respectful and safe manner.