As President Trump continues to drive a wedge between conservative and liberal America, both sides have taken extreme lengths to exert their dominance over their ideological enemies. For those on the right, this often involves harming or embarrassing themselves to varying degrees. In an effort to “own the libs,” Trump supporters have catered Papa John’s pizza to their weddings (to support the Papa after he said sales were dipping because of NFL player protests); smashed their coffee makers (after Keurig pulled its advertising from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show) and canceling their Netflix subscriptions (after the streaming service signed a deal with the Obamas). There are plenty more examples.
The phenomenon took new life last September when Nike released an advertisement starring Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who became one of the biggest villains of the #MAGA sect for starting a movement to kneel during the national anthem prior to games in protest of police brutality. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” the ad read, a reference to Kaepernick’s inability to land a job in the NFL as a result of the controversy. Conservatives weren’t happy, and several videos sprang up on social media of people burning their Nike gear. In one particularly sad case, a man cut the Nike logos off of his socks.
Stephen Martin, the owner of Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs, Colorado, took it a step further, announcing that his store would stop carrying Nike merchandise. The brand’s market dominance meant a downturn was inevitable, but the store was hit far harder than Martin expected. This week he announced that after 21 years in business, he will close the doors for good. “Being a sports store without Nike is kind of like being a milk store without milk or a gas station without gas,” he told Colorado Springs station KOAA. “How do you do it? They have a monopoly on jerseys.”
When Martin first saw that Nike was throwing its support behind Kaepernick, he sent his employees home and put up signs announcing that all Nike merchandise was now half-price, according to the Washington Post. Despite support from members of the community and above-average sales around the holidays, slashing prices so dramatically on such a large portion of his inventory put Martin in a hole from which he couldn’t recover. He made his decision to close up shop for good on Sunday night. On Monday, he put up signs advertising a 40-percent-off “everything must go” sale.
“PRIME TIME SPORTS is closing,” he wrote on Facebook. “All merchandise 40% OFF. Thank You for 21 mostly good 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.”
Martin’s ‘Honor the Flag’ memorial began three years ago after he canceled an autograph session with Brandon Marshall when the former Broncos wide receiver took a knee during the anthem. The protest inspired Martin to ask customers to send in images of friends and family who were active-duty service members. He pasted them up on the front of the store. Though Prime Time Sports is now closing, Martin regrets nothing. “I didn’t give in to big Nike and big dollars. I didn’t give in. I did it my way,” said Martin. “That part of the military respect that’s in me just cannot be sacrificed or compromised, as I believe Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick both did. I don’t like losing a business over it, but I rather be able to live with myself.”
“As much as I hate to admit this, perhaps there are more Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick supporters out there than I realized,” he added.