Tuesday, February 10, 1998

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Nike's new Waikiki store puts the company's own
stamp on sportswear retailing with a shoe
display fronting a fish tank.

Nike steps into
isle retailing scene

Star endorsements and
slick technology abound

By Russ Lynch

Golfer Tiger Woods is there. So are tennis champ Monica Seles, women's basketball star Sheryl Swoopes-Jackson, champion runner Michael Johnson and, of course, basketball great Michael Jordan.

Not in person, but at the new NikeTown these are the sports superstars that greet you at every corner in pictures, videos and displays -- the stars that help carry Nike Inc.'s brand name around the world.

"Every corner" may not be the best way to describe the 32,000-square-foot store, set to open Saturday. The two-story outlet in the new King Kalakaua Plaza at the entrance to Waikiki is all curves and surprises. It's easy to segue into a new department without realizing it until suddenly you see that the stools are golf ball buckets and the floor is marked in golf-drive yards.

The great Nike athletes are present throughout the store, in photographs, floor "medallions" noting their achievements, and display items such as the gold-plated running shoes of 200-meter record-holder Johnson.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
A pneumatic tube system moves merchandise
between the store's two showroom floors and its
third-floor stockroom.

Some other stars will attend the grand opening Saturday, when ceremonies at 9 a.m. are followed by the store opening at 9:30. The store expects basketball stars Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper, volleyball's Gabrielle Reece and Karrie Poppinga, and triathletes Mark Allen and Karen Smyers.

Tiger Woods won't be there, but at the entrance to the golf section, customers will be able to use a golf-course periscope to watch videos of Tiger in action.

Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike feels it has a good location for its 11th NikeTown, attracting not just the Japanese tourists but mainlanders (hence the cold-weather gear and snow-boarding posters) and locals.

Attraction to the Hawaii community is important, as a customer base and as a marketing tool, the company says. NikeTown's designers made wide use of island themes. Wall charts and pictures show surfing locales, golf courses, and outdoor activities.

The floors have a sand-land-ocean design which in places is treated to subtly flickering overhead blue lighting that makes it seem like ripples in the water.

Anneli Shearer, a public relations representative from Nike in New York, said community involvement is important to Nike. Ten percent of the receipts from the opening weekend will go to the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at boosting achievement among public-school children.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
An interactive exhibit lets customers see how
Nike products stand up to extremes of
heat, cold, wind and water.

The store is, of course, meant to sell Nike products, and nothing else. To do that, however, they also exercise an educational role, Shearer said.

Displays show how certain shoes and other products were developed and what they are intended to do. The staff of about 240 is trained in these details.

One high-technology display allows customers to check out the exact effects of wind, heat, cold or water on some Nike fabrics. A swatch from a jacket, for example, goes inside a sealed hatch and the pressure or temperature needle swings across the dial, a recording tells the details on how much weather the fabric can withstand.

Everywhere there is the Nike "swoosh" brand sign, all the way down to the heads of screws holding some customer seats together.

The store is nearly the last increment of King Kalakalua Plaza, which is bounded by Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues and Olohana and Kalaimoku streets.

Already open are a 24,000-square-foot, two-story Banana Republic store and an All Star Cafe logo merchandise store on Kalakaua. The merchandise store is just the first step. The All Star Cafe itself is to have a grand opening March 25, using 9,000 square feet on the third floor, said Tom Applegate of developers Honu Group Inc. There is still a space for a smaller restaurant on the fourth floor, looking toward the ocean over Fort DeRussy.

See also Island Images in our
News section for another photo.

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