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Shoplifting epidemic forces Nike to shutter Portland flagship

By Jake Beardslee · September 22, 2023

In brief…

  • Nike has permanently closed its flagship community store in Portland in response to rampant shoplifting.
  • The iconic sportswear company said "deteriorating public safety conditions and rapid growth of retail theft" left them no choice but to cease operations.
  • Other Portland retailers such as Walmart have also closed due to unchecked crime.
  • The once-idyllic city saw more than 63,000 property thefts last year alone.
Nike permanently closed its original Portland community store in the wake of chronic shoplifting which the City is unable to address.  Steve Morgan/Wikimedia

Nike has permanently closed its first-ever community store in Portland, Oregon due to rampant shoplifting and safety concerns, the company confirmed this month.

The sportswear giant had temporarily shuttered the Northeast Portland location last year, writing to Portland’s outgoing Mayor Ted Wheeler that “deteriorating public safety conditions and rapid escalation in retail theft” left the company no choice but to close operations.

Nike proposed hiring off-duty Portland police officers to combat store theft, but the depleted city police department did not have enough officers to assist the Oregon-based company, local news station KGW reported.

Nike sought to reopen the store last May, but, with crime rates continuing to rise, decided to shutter it permanently. Wheeler said he was “very disappointed” by the closure.

The Nike community store, which opened in 1984 as the company’s first factory store, had been a Portland fixture for decades. However, persistent theft in the wake of the 2020 George Floyd protests created unresolvable problems. Employees said they were prohibited from physically intercepting shoplifters, leading to increasingly brazen thefts.

Portland has been grappling with skyrocketing crime rates since 2020, with acts of looting, arson, and vandalism becoming commonplace in the once-idyllic city. This was made worse when Portland cut $15 million from its police budget during the national defund-the-police campaign. While some police funds have since been restored, homicide, homelessness, and robbery rates still remain high.

Nike is the latest in a string of businesses, including the city’s only two Walmart locations, to close their stores or leave Portland altogether in the face of rising crime.

According to police statistics, Portland saw more than 63,000 property thefts in 2022.

Between 2020 and 2021, Portland lost $1 billion in tax revenues as residents and companies fled the city’s soaring crime, homelessness and disorder, according to the IRS.

As homelessness has spread, it is not uncommon to find tents on private property, drug peddling on city sidewalks in broad daylight, instances of the people defecating in front of retail storefronts.