COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The owner of the Colorado sporting goods store said he doesn’t regret taking a stand against Nike over the company’s signature Colin Kaepernick ad campaign, but he admits it probably contributed to the ultimate failure of his business.
Stephen Martin told KOAA that he decided Sunday night to close Prime Time Sports for good because he “just can’t keep the doors open anymore.”
Martin decided to stop selling Nike merchandise in September of 2018 and posted a large sign in the window of the Colorado Springs store that read: “Still choosing to stand / All Nike 1/2 price / “Just doing it.”
Over the next several months, Martin said his stand against Nike turned out too difficult to uphold financially.
“Being a sports store without Nike is kind of like being a milk store without milk or a gas station without gas,” he told KOAA. “How do you do it? They have a monopoly on jerseys.”
The Nike campaign produced heated debate on social media after featuring Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season. He did so to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
One ad image featured the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s face with the text: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick, who was never signed by another team, is now suing and claims NFL teams colluded against him.
While some viewed the symbolic act of kneeling, which was adopted by other NFL players and spread to other sports, as an essential American right to protest, others viewed it as disrespectful.
Martin, who has called Nike “the mother of all harlots” for its use of the term “sacrifice everything,” told KOAA he even canceled a 2016 store appearance by Denver Broncos star Brandon Marshall, who also decided to kneel for the anthem.
“As much as I hate to admit this, perhaps there are more Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick supporters out there than I realized,” he told KOAA.
Martin says it’s not just the lack of Nike products, but also the loss of sales to online giants like Amazon that have been too hard to compete with.
He said he’s now trying to help his staff find jobs before closing for good in about a month.
While he’s sorry to lose the business, Martin said he’d rather be able to live with himself.