In May 2019, European sportswear retail chain Snipes acquired Northeast-based retailer Kicks USA, indicating its intention to expand into the U.S. market. That was followed by the acquisition of Midwest chain Mr. Alan's in July. While Snipes has become an established name across the pond with almost 300 stores bearing its name since being founded in 1998, the brand was relatively unknown stateside. It made a splash that sneakerheads would take note of by bringing on multi-platinum musician and social media's greatest motivational speaker, DJ Khaled, as its new Chief Creative Officer later in 2019. Now operating nearly 100 stores across the country, Snipes' latest stride forward in the U.S. market is the grand opening of its first 2.0 concept store in Brooklyn today, a fully digital storefront that promises customers an elevated shopping experience.
The Brooklyn 2.0 store is located directly across the street from the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. The NBA franchise is currently sponsored by Snipes ,meaning the close proximity will lend itself to various events and advertising with the team in the future.
"It's a really strong retail area. I think it just makes sense," says Snipes USA Head of Marketing Adam Herstig. "We have a deep relationship with the Nets. We're across the street from them. [Flatbush Avenue] is iconic in many different ways. We have stores across New York, but this gets us as close to Manhattan [right now]."
Like almost everything, the grand opening of the Brooklyn 2.0 store was affected by COVID-19. Originally slated for March, it obviously had to pushed back because of quarantine and business restrictions. Even now, the grand opening will not be exactly what the company had planned. Masks will obviously be worn by all workers and customers, capacity will be limited to 50 percent occupancy (under 50 people at a time), and social distancing will be in full effect. It's something the Snipes USA team has had to adapt to, but the opening is still obviously a big moment for the company.
"I think the gut reaction [when the pandemic started] was to pause and watch to see how bad everything is. Everything shut down. We were just operating off of dot-com business," says Herstig. "As stores slowly came back to life, we were actually really surprised at how much pent up demand there was for our product."
Modeled after Snipes' European concept locations, the first of which opened in Cologne, Germany in 2018, the new space in Brooklyn will be fully paperless. Rather than traditional signage seen in most sneaker stores, the space will be populated by 17 LED screens that will rotate between various storytelling and advertising which will update regularly to match the latest products on sale in-store. For opening weekend, the store will host a special installation: a truck parked outside with Khaled on an LED screen announcing raffle winners and giving away prizes. The most coveted is a pair of his limited "Father of Asahd" Air Jordan 3 collaboration.
"I am excited! Trust me when I say that we’re not playing around at Snipes," says Khaled in an official press releases. "While I will not be able to be at this grand opening physically, I will be there virtually. I want to thank everyone for supporting my Snipes family during these tough times."
Herstig says that Brooklyn is just the beginning too. Customers across the country can expect other Snipes locations to be given the 2.0 overhaul in the future as well.
"We plan to continue this concept and convert other 1.0 stores," Herstig tells Sole Collector. "I think we're going to take a look at how this is performing and then we'll see how fast we want to update others, but that is the plan."