Last night I attended the opening of the new Nike VAULT store located inside the Staples Center just inside the Magic Johnson statue. After becoming socially lubricated and wandering around LA Live for a while, I decided to head over to the event. There was some concert at Nokia serving some seemingly young and emo element of the downtown area. I couldn’t wait to get around some sports.
Entering the space was cool. The store had a lot of the Niketown flavor, but was ultra-customized to the Los Angeles market. There was plenty of purple and gold and a really sick mural of Kobe that immediately got me talking Lakers with everyone in the room. I am constantly amazed at the caliber of people Nike seems to staff their events with. You aren’t inundated by vacuous cocktail waitresses, rather you get a woman that reminds you of your buddy’s attractive sister who shadily has a wicked jump shot. They will talk sports with you and in this case, hand you gin and tonics. I spoke with one dude on staff who will remain nameless and had the best Laker conversation I’ve had since the Finals. We discussed the roster moves, the final pieces and finally the theory that one day Kevin Durant would be a Laker.
The space was a manageable size and DJ Skee, the MC, talked about how often they planned to update the store. I like the idea of a living and breathing retail location. To that point, there were NIKEid customization machines all over and people were getting their gear personalized. There were iPad enabled touchscreens where people could write on Kobe’s wall. I am not sure if Kobe was interacting with this wall in anyway, I doubted it, but didn’t really care. Some girl handed me a hamburger and I was still drinking a gin and tonic and basically writing on iPads that broadcast to huge LED monitors is just fun to do.
They were clearly gearing up for FIBA play and there was a serious emphasis on international teams. They had three tough mannequins in full on gear looking really intimidating. I had seen a similar display at the Beverly Hills Niketown with USC and Cal players and I always like seeing that kind of thing. Puts you in the mindset of realizing how intimidating athletes are on the field when in full gear. Sparta!
After saying adios, I wandered around LA Live and it made sense to have Nike in this spot alongside ESPN and Staples. It’s really becoming quite a scene down there, far from the days when I wandered the streets and never saw another human being. South Park is invigorated, the VAULT is just another jewel in the crown. I hear they may have some in store athlete events, that sounds good to me as long as the gin and tonic girls are still rolling through.
I’ll leave you with three shirts I really loved. The first is the truth. The second is a scary truth. The third made me laugh.