I’ll be at the grand opening of “House of Hoops” today, a new basketball-only store on 125th Street in Harlem. The store is a collaboration between Nike and Footlocker, which Nike says will be a “hub for all things basketball.”
I like the idea for more than one reason.
When I lived in Harlem in the late 1980s and early 90s, I didn’t know about the early history of African Americans in basketball during the Black Fives Era. No one else did either, except for some old-timers and New York Rens insiders.
House of Hoops will only sell Nike, Converse, and Brand Jordan basketball gear, including Converse’s upcoming collection of Black Fives “Century Pack” merchandise.
The store kicks things off this afternoon with an “open house” featuring special guests like former New York Renaissance star John Isaacs, Julius Erving, Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and Kenny “The Jet” Smith. It might be something like what they did in Houston.
Meanwhile, I also like this idea because Harlem needs stores that care about more than just pimping urban fashion. Don’t you think so? What about the interests of the community?
But does Nike really mean all things basketball?
If so, then will House of Hoops sell books? Educational materials? Offer guidance on how would-be high school basketball student-athletes can get into college, raise self-esteem, embrace goal-oriented living? Address graduation rates for college varsity ballers? Give basketball industry job and career counseling? Advise about life after basketball?
Will they offer women’s basketball gear?
I’m hearing that Nike corporate will handle the buying for House of Hoops, not Footlocker. That’s a good start.
Nike says they’ll release some exclusive sneakers like the “personalized performance shoes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade – as well as limited edition styles.”
More House of Hoops stores are planned for Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and LA.
Although I raise the social and community questions, I admit I can’t wait to check out House of Hoops! My kids will love it (especially this one), and it’ll be a must-stop store for me, particularly if they offer more than just merchandise.
What are your thoughts about it?
House of Hoops: 268 West 125th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.