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Foot Locker’s New Compton Shop is Like an Apple Store for Sneakers

Foot Locker’s newest location in Compton is far more than a venue for slinging sneakers.

Instead, the company’s first crisp, clean and undeniably massive Los Angeles community store will act as a hub for local consumers, artists and families.

The space was designed specifically for Compton consumers who are “rich in sneaker culture,” but underserved by the area’s existing businesses, says Ken Side, vice president of Foot Locker’s L.A. regional stores. The 12,800-square-foot location houses not only hot new products from Nike, Adidas, Puma, Jordan Brand, Converse and others, but also comfortable, WiFi-enabled spaces intended for public use.

“We brought a store to where they live,” he said, so that the neighborhood’s families and streetwear enthusiasts alike would not have to drive to Foot Locker locations in the nearby towns of Lakewood or Cerritos to get their fashion fix. Kids are also welcome to study at the location after school, he said, pointing to wooden bleachers and seating areas where they can plug in computers and digital devices.

The activation area at the Compton community store.
The activation area at the Compton community store. Kate Nishimura

To support the community, Foot Locker has also worked with the City of Compton to recruit store associates and managers who live within a five-mile radius of the store. The brand has partnered with local artists Mel Depaz and AngelOnce on custom artwork enlivening the store’s interior, as well as an in-progress mural splashed across its outer façade.

In addition to hosting sneaker-focused events, Foot Locker’s staff plans to organize neighborhood clean-ups and maintain a community garden nearby. A “Home Grown” activation space also hosts a permanent rotation of local brands and collaborations with community artists. The store launched with capsule collections from four Compton-based designers including Depaz, Ugly Primo, Dreamhaus and Viva La Bonita.

Viva La Bonita's capsule collection will be available for six weeks.
Viva La Bonita’s capsule collection will be available for six weeks. Kate Nishimura

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Side said the company plans to launch four new local collections every six weeks. Artists will also be invited to host talks with students from the Compton Unified School District’s art programs, “to explain how they got started” on their design journeys.

“We worked closely with the mayor, the city councilman and the municipality in planning this store,” he added, in a process took over a year to complete. Mayor Eric Garcetti attended the store’s grand opening last week, participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.

Since then, a long, meandering line outside the doors has become a near-permanent fixture, Side said, noting that the store is adhering to social-distancing protocols with staff closely monitoring the number of people inside. On Sunday, the first 200 families to visit Foot Locker Compton received a “School from Home” kit, which included a pre-packaged lunch, school supplies, and an invitation to join in Foot Locker’s tutoring program with Jordan Brand.

Store artwork by Mel Depaz alongside Puma's shop-in-shop.
Store artwork by Mel Depaz alongside Puma’s shop-in-shop. Kate Nishimura

“We knew based on data and information that a lot of our consumers live in or around Compton, either online or in malls,” Side said. “We realized that there was no one here serving this community with this kind of environment.”

In addition to the Compton location, Foot Locker has launched U.S. community stores in Manhattan, Philadelphia and Detroit, along with international locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and the U.K. The sports-oriented chain is intent on opening more community stores with similar features in the Los Angeles area, Side said, and is exploring other cities, like Chicago and Vancouver, where the idea might resonate best.

“As a national company, we know there’s a huge need to connect locally with people—not just through product,” Side said. “Our goal is for everyone who walks in the door to feel like, ‘You built this for me.’”