A Colorado businessman’s decision to stop selling Nike products at his mall store after the company made quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of a prominent ad campaign helped sink his business.
Stephen Martin’s Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs is closing, a victim, in part, of the culture wars surrounding the Kaepernick take-the-knee debate, The Washington Post reported.
“Being a sports store without Nike is like being a gas station without gas,” Martin told the Post.
According to the Post, Martin had been a vocal critic of the player protests during the national anthem but the Nike ad campaign made him angry — and he vowed to never order from the retailer again.
But making the proclamation hurt his bottom line: Prime Time Sports had $320,000 of Nike products in stock at the time of the Kaepernick ad, the Post reported.
Martin was also the victim of the same pressures suffered by other mall retailers, the Post reported. He has five years left on a 10-year lease at the mall, and already owes more than $60,000 in back rent, the Post reported.
“I’m in a scary place,” Martin told the Post. “I’m hoping that they’ll work with me. And I’ve been open with them. I’m 64 years old headed into retirement. I can’t pay 350 grand, but I can pay something. I'm worth something.”
His business slide began three years ago, when Martin canceled an autograph signing with Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall after Marshall joined the ranks of protesting players. The calls came pouring in: “You racist! You bigot!” he told the Post.
And then came the Nike ad, and Martin’s anti-Nike proclamation, and a customer boycott — and the end of Prime Time Sports.
“Nike ran that ad to increase business, and I’m just collateral damage,” he said. “And it could be that there are more people that are in opposition to me than I realize.”
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