Sports store that boycotted Nike over Colin Kaepernick ads forced to close

Last fall, the launch of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” advertising campaign, which starred ex-NFL star and social justice activist Colin Kaepernick, generated plenty of criticism. Vitriol poured on to social media; some disgruntled customers burned their Nike shoes on video.

Stephen Martin was upset enough with the choice of Kaepernick – the quarterback who began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism – that he stopped selling Nike products in his Colorado sporting goods store.

Now his store, Prime Time Sports, is going out of business after 21 years. “For everybody that has offered help and support through the ‘Honor The Flag’ memorial wall and Nike boycott, now is your time to help me liquidate,” he posted on Facebook on Monday.

Martin told a local TV station that he could no longer pay the store’s lease just north of Colorado Springs in part because of online outlets and declining retail sales. But the cut in business from boycotting Nike hurt him badly.

“Being a sports store and not having Nike jerseys is kind of like being a milk store without milk or a gas station without gas. They have a virtual monopoly on jerseys,” Martin told KKTV Colorado Springs.

Martin has been a vocal critic of Kaepernick and the protest he launched during the NFL’s national anthems. In 2016, when Kaepernick, then the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, started kneeling during the anthem , Martin cancelled an autograph signing with Broncos star and fellow kneeler Brandon Marshall.

Kaepernick eventually left the 49ers as a free agent; he was not signed by another team, and has sued the league for collusion to blackball him. Off the field, he remains a highly visible face of the #BlackLivesMatter social justice movement – perhaps most prominently through the Nike ad campaign.

The son of a veteran, Martin said he disagreed with the ads’ declaration “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

“I don’t think [Kaepernick] knows what it’s like,” to sacrifice everything, he told local Fox 21.

At the time, Martin said that 50 to 60% of his business involved Nike products, so boycotting the brand would likely have dire consequences for his store.

“Probably won’t be able to keep the doors open,” he said. “I really doubt that I can survive without Nike.” Time has now proved himself right.

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