Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Crowd desiring special Valentine sneakers loses that lovin' feeling
Valentine Nike Air Force 1 Low (SoleRedemption.com)
Valentine Nike Dunk Low (SoleRedemption.com)
Monday, February 07, 2005
By Lisa Medendorp
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
Somehow the word got out.
Well before Saturday's 8 a.m. special opening, the crowd started gathering outside the Finish Line at The Lakes Mall in Fruitport Township.
Money in hand, their sole purpose was the purchase of Nike's special edition Valentine's Day shoe.
Store officials got more than they bargained for.
An estimated 150 to 200 eager customers, mostly young adults, were "pushing and shoving, wanting to get into the store," said Fruitport Township Officer Jerry Young, who was called to the mall.
The crowd was pushing on the metal gate outside the store front.
Store personnel "couldn't even open the gate," Young said. "The gate was bowed, and the plate glass store windows were bowed slightly from all the pressure of the kids pushing on the gate.
"With everybody pushing forward, there were people getting pushed into the gate where they couldn't move." He estimated about 20 to 30 people were pinned, standing up, against the gate.
It was a potentially dangerous situation, Young said. Customers could have been crushed or trampled, but police said hardly anyone in the crowd cooperated when they were asked to step back from the gate. They simply kept pushing forward and pushed people further into the gate, police said.
Fruitport Township police then called on other agencies for help with what was described as an "unruly crowd." Responding officers came from Norton Shores, Roosevelt Park, Muskegon Township, Muskegon, the Michigan State Police and the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department.
"When we finally got enough officers there, we got the people back away from the gate," Young said. "The county came with their K-9, and that quickly got the crowd under control." Merely the appearance of the police dog was a factor in getting things calmed down, he said.
Several people were escorted out of the mall. No one was arrested.
Customers then were told to get in a single-file line. They were waited on by number. Police said the store never opened the gate, but workers instead took shoe orders through the gate, got the shoes, took the money and slid the shoes under the gate.
Young said he wasn't sure whether the store had enough of the Valentine's Day shoes. The store finally was able to open for regular business about 10:30 a.m., he said. A store manager declined comment today, and referred calls to a district manager who could not be reached for comment.
Another Nike shoe debut also drew a crowd on Feb. 13, 1998. The line started forming at 7 a.m. outside the now-closed Muskegon Mall, wanting to buy the Air Jordan 13 shoe from the Imperial Sports and Foot Locker stores.
Imperial Sports opened first and sold all 48 pairs of adult shoes in stock within 30 minutes. The staff kept the front gate down and allowed only a handful of customers in at a time. The assistant manager said they tried opening once, but the "mad rush" forced them to close the gate again. After Imperial Sports sold out, a crowd of hundreds then descended on the Foot Locker.
Despite the large crowd, mall security officials and Muskegon police reported no major problems. By 4 p.m. that day, an estimated 1,200 people had come to the mall to buy the limited edition shoes.