Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone… The Christmas holiday season is a time where many people purchase gifts for loved ones and sometimes even themselves. According to the National Retail Foundation it is said that Americans will spend an upwards of 465.5 billion dollars in 2011 shopping which is a 2.8% increase from last year. On December 23, 2011 millions of people not only across the nation but the world reveled in the release of the Iconic Air Jordan XI shoe known to sneakerheads as the “Concords.” The past three years Jordan Brand has previously released other colors of this same styled shoe; the “Cool Gray” and the “Space Jam,” and while there was anticipation for the release of those shoes, neither compared to the release of the Concords. The release date of the shoe has been known since the summer, and shortly after many of those who desired to purchase the shoe began to plot on their approach for acquiring them. Generally there are two ways shoes are purchased; by going to the local retailer to purchase them or visiting the website of the same retailers so as to avoid the hassle. Under normal circumstances there wouldn’t be a problem for someone to use either of these outlets to purchase their shoes and be safe. However when it comes to limited or popular releases like the Concord shoe (and Jordans are not the only shoes people camp out for), many knew they would have to be very strategic to get them.
Once I caught wind of the release I made up in my mind that these would be my Christmas gift to myself. The $180 sticker price, while high to a lot of people, is not that far off from other popular shoes like the Foamposits ($200+) the LeBron’s ($170) and Kobe Bryant ($180). Yes there are plenty other brands and styles of gym shoes/sneakers that are less expensive but ask a female that has a REAL Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Tory Burch purse would a less costly purse had been sufficient, and they probably would say yes but it’s about the brand. I have heard many people take issue with spending that much for a pair of shoes but I look at some of the shoes I have in my collection, which include a pair of Air Jordan XI in a different color that I have had since 2001 that are in still good condition, so if you take care of them they can and will last a long time. Now I am against purchasing these shoes for young children who have yet to develop an appreciation for clothing, but to each his/her own.
But back to my quest for the Concords, I initially thought about trying the “order online” route but I recalled the horror stories that many of my sneakerhead friends discussed in regards to ordering shoes that were just as popular online. From the website crashing and not allowing you to purchase, to you making the purchase but getting an email from the website stating that the order never went through. So I decided to try the campout route, where I would go to a local mall and sit outside until they opened the doors. Little did I know, the mall security had given out tickets to those interested in purchasing the shoes earlier that day, around the same time I had gone to the mall to scope out the scene and talk to a couple of guys that work in the shoe stores I frequent. So when I got back to the mall around 11pm for the Midnight release, there was a nice crowd of around 50-75 people already huddled around. I assumed that Footlocker would have an ample amount to satisfy this crowd so I was not worried. However right as the clock struck 12AM the dropped the ticket bomb on a lot of us and I began to get nervous. But after hearing that they only gave out 40 tickets, and me being close to the door, I became confident in being able to get them… SIKE… shortly after letting the 40 ticket holders get their shoes they pulled down the gate and sent many of us home empty-handed. The next morning I tried another store but had my hopes crushed again because this retailer, who was a private owned store, sold many of their allotment of shoes during the previous two weeks so I trudged home disappointed.
Now many are probably asking why would I go through all of this for a pair of shoes… Simply put because this was an item I really wanted. When it comes to things we want we will subject ourselves to things that to other people deem over the top. Some women will sit in a salon for hours for hairstyles that last only a couple of days then do it again in a couple of weeks which in the grand scheme equates purchasing these same “overpriced” shoes monthly. I also know people who will sit outside in line for Black Friday sales, stood in lines longer and under worse conditions to get tickets for concerts and we all have seen images of college students who will miss class to eat sleep and chill in tents just to get access to tickets for bowl games or premium seats versus a heated rival. During my college days I will admit to have “camped-out” for the PS2 and actually missed a quiz but luckily begged my professor to let me retake it. I also stood in line for concerts and will never forget the frenzy behind the Kappa Thanksgiving Party at St. Andrews where if you weren’t in line at 9pm for a party that really didn’t get hype until 11pm you didn’t get in.
Upon getting over my disappointment I got home to find out about the craziness that ensued throughout the nation. Recounts of pandemonium, fights and robberies were littered all over the internet and on the news (it even made ESPN.) Someone went as far as to create a fake death of a young teenager in the DC/Maryland area.
While the drama that took place in many urban areas across the nation is unfortunate, please do not be blinded by the BS that is being perpetuated here. It’s ironic that any other time we take Fox News with a grain of salt especially it comes to politics, but with this story their perceptions are legit. Also now that there is evidence that the death in DC is a hoax, I havent seen ANY media outlet update the story or send a retraction for covering something that was false. It’s shameful that the media knows how divided we as a black community are and will use it against us. Violence during Black Friday shopping isn’t given this much coverage because white America doesn’t care, but they realize that since much of our social acceptance is tied to our stuff and things they know it will be a heated topic of conversation where many will never understand the person on the other side of the argument.
I have seen it all in regards to jokes & comments about those who have purchased the Concords, and yes I’ll agree that if your bills aren’t paid and you skimping out on other responsibilities as an adult, you shouldn’t be able to partake of any luxuries but that goes beyond purchasing sneakers/gym shoes. But changing this mindset of having the latest toy and “keep up with the Jones” goes way beyond what is happening now. Just like we are pre-disposed to health issues because of genetics, we also acquire mentalities and thought-processes from the DNA of our parents and ancestors. Many believe this “gotta ball” mentality is something new but it’s not, I believe we can trace these desires back to when we were African kings and queens. Look at historical accounts of how our ancestors cherished stuff and things, C’mon, they had extravagant tombs and pyramids constructed for the “ballers” of their times. Even look at present day African tribes, while they may not use a Benz or extravagant homes to show status they have their own unique way of showing who is the top of the heap, whether its colorful face paint or necklaces. So we first must realize this ball out mindset and how you treat money did not just recently evolve, so you may need to sit down with your parents and even grandparents to see how they spent their money and compare habits to really see how much of a curse this is. I am currently doing a 18 week financial stewardship class through my church and we are using the book Jesus on Money by Larry Burkett; it has helped all of us in the class face issues head on so that our bad financial habits aren’t transferred to our children or grandchildren.
So while all of this started as a quest for a pair of shoes, it has opened my eyes to so much more, and while I still wish I had gotten them I’m glad for the life lessons the journey taught me.