Our Trip to Mecca for Nike Addicts

Here's a rare photo of the Nike Employee Store. Photos taken inside the store are a little harder to come by.

I wasn’t able to film my shopping experience Saturday at the Nike Employee Store in Beaverton. They don’t allow video on the premises. If I had, you would see me, mouth agape, plodding through every aisle in a zombie-like state, pausing at time to regain my balance.

Let’s take two steps back: My good friend and co-worker Stephen provided me with a guest pass to the Nike Employee Store courtesy his partner, who’s worked for Nike for over 13 years. For my girlfriend and I to get in, we needed to provide a driver’s license and proof of matching mail addresses. After that, it was an hour of consumer euphoria.

Here’s where the Nike Employee Store deviates from Nike Factory Stores: The products are brand new and in-season, but everything is 50 percent off. I made off with two Nike Pro training shirts, a LeBron t-shirt, a Run t-shirt, two pairs of shorts and a pair of LunarGlide+ running shoes for a total of … wait for it … $133! The shoes alone retail at $100. I damn near left a tip.

The longer we live in Oregon, the more my wardrobe is overwhelmed with swooshes. It’s gotten so bad, I started looking at the Nike Golf collection for work clothes. Changed my mind last minute, because I didn’t want to be that guy who wears his golf spikes as dress shoes. Also, there’s always distrust of men who wear waterproof slacks in a business setting.

Not long after we made this decision to move to Portland last year, I started submitting online applications for every job they listed. How an English major is qualified to be a golf product representative or color specialist is beyond me. I never got so far as a cover letter phase, but I would’ve leveraged my willingness to work for free, as long as I could receive the employee discount. I would work another job just so I could afford working for Nike.

You would expect a place where the goods are so cheap would cause a mob scene of Black Friday proportions. Not the case, here. Though it was like a human game of Tetris, every customer seemed delighted to stand in checkout lines for 20 minutes. Getting to the checkout line is the real challenge. There’s a $750 spending limit, but mine was more like $100. I went back and forth a dozen times, swapping out hats and golf balls for t-shirts, then a hoodie instead of the t-shirts, but maybe shoes instead of the hoodies, but I could really use shorts, so I needed shorts, too. I felt like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at a Sub-Saharan orphanage.

Last week when I announced we’re moving, I mentioned my girlfriend and I are keeping a bucket list of sorts. Cross “Spending spree at the Nike Employee Store” off the list. If you live in Oregon or even if you’re just visiting, at all costs, beg, bribe or threaten anyone you know who’s an employee or knows an employee. You need to shop here. Give in to the swoosh.

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