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Nike re-opens original Santa Monica location

It's hoped that the unassuming pink stucco building will become a community hub for runners and run clubs in the Los Angeles area

Last month Nike, now one of the richest brands in the world, re-opened its very first 1966 storefront location on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, according to a report in Los Angeles Magazine.

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The story goes on to paint a picture of the early days of Nike, which was founded by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman of Oregon, and whose original name was Blue Ribbon Sports, shortened to BRS. Jeff Johnson, the company’s first employee and Knight’s friend from his days at Stanford University, is credited with coming up with the name Nike (the Greek goddess of victory), in 1971, and he was in charge of the space, which became a meeting place for the earliest joggers and runners. From this first location, the company grew rapidly, opening stores in Oregon, then Massachusetts, and eventually across the country.

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According to Joshua Hunt, author of University of Nike: How Corporate Cash Bought American Higher Education, Johnson started selling shoes for Knight on commission in 1965, and he was integral to the whole operation: “By the time Johnson became the first Blue Ribbon Sports employee, he was raising a family in Los Angeles. Johnson proved to be a tireless multitasker, with unpaid duties that inclued snapping photographs for the company’s catalogs, developing its first marketing materials, and establishing its mail-order business. He even designed a few of the company’s early shoes…”

According to Los Angeles Magazine, BRS’s walls were plastered with running images shot by Johnson. 

The new iteration of the BRS location is intended more as a branded community hub than a retail outlet, since a large portion of the brand’s sales are now made online.

Sources claim there are plans to revive Toronto’s Nike Loft, formerly located on Richmond Street, in the Bathurst/Harbord Street area.