Foot Locker and community activist and real estate developer, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr have come together to open Foot Locker’s latest store in Compton, but this is no ordinary store. This is designed to be a community-driven store, a store reflective of the very community they are in, and a store that is committed to making a difference.
The new Community-based store is located at 205 E. Compton Boulevard in the Bakewell’s Compton Renaissance Plaza Shopping Center. On Tuesday, August 25, Footlocker hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate its opening, while using the platform to introduce their brand and new cutting-edge features that make this location stand out from the rest in a 12,800 square foot space. The store offers the latest styles in athletic gear with the new Kobe Bryant show predicted as the biggest seller.
But, despite being an athletic shoe store, the Foot Locker team’s mission is clear. “This is a place where kids can come to a safe haven to do their school work, plug in their computers, their phones, or whatever the case may be and just hang out in the store,” said Ryan Walker, customer experience manager. According Walker, there are only four community-based Foot Lockers within the company nationally and this Compton-based store is the only one on the West coast. “This is where we will have our special activations for middle school and high school students throughout the year, all to develop and progress growth.
In support of the Compton community, The Bakewell Company connected Foot Locker with Compton officials; the company committed to hiring local artists to make custom products that represented local talent and professionalism. According to Walker, the current products in the store are inspired by local Compton brands, Dream House, Viva La Bonita, Ugly Primo, and Mel Depaz – a Compton-based artist hired to design custom artwork for the stores. These are local brands that will be circulated throughout the year.
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., chairman and CEO of the Bakewell Company, was the first to purchase an item in the store for his granddaughter. “This is a great addition to the Compton community and to our shopping center. Footlocker should be applauded for its work and commitment to the community. From the outset, they have demonstrated a real commitment to being a part of Compton.”
Bakewell was asked why the venture is important to the City of Compton. “The majority of the store personnel come from the community; the store managers and the community liaison are from here, they have been real partners in bringing this store to the city. The Bakewell Company is looking forward to bringing more opportunities to the center and to the city as we continue striving to make Compton an even better place to live and work.”
Throughout the store’s interior, murals tell stories through colorful paintings of urban life. In a dressing room, community activist, Yoselin Sanchez stands next to a Mel Depaz mural of herself and Dianna Pittman, a fellow community-activist serving in Compton. “My friend, Mel Depaz is an artist and approached me about wanting to create art about two young women doing amazing work in the community. So, we were her inspiration, and I am really honored that she chose me for this Compton store,” Sanchez said.
Lladon Cook, store manager – community liaison for the Compton store, was excited to talk about Depaz’s work. “Depaz is a local artist in the City of Compton. She has a clothing brand, she does murals. She’s a super talented young lady and we were honored to have her items and her art in our store,“ said Cook. Cook is just as excited about the community aspect and the deeper purpose behind this Foot Locker’s mission. “We use the shoes as a leverage. If we don’t help our community, our people, then, who will?” he stated. We’re happy what’s going on in this community and this is a great opportunity for us to step in and help people who look like us and who don’t look like us; to bring everybody together and bridge that gap. Foot Locker is providing those opportunities through shoes. We are going to provide jobs and so many opportunities for the community,” Cook stated.
The store is separated into four sections: The community area for kids; a men’s section that is roughly 50 percent of the store; a women’s section with displays the embody empowered athletic women; and a children’s section, starting from toddlers-to-teens. Each section has a plethora of name brand items that represent the sports fashion excellence the Foot Locker brand is known for.
According to Walker, since the store was recreated from a pre-existing building, the designers took a creative approach by converting an old bank and ATM and into a pick-up window and community activation center. The window gives customers the option to safely retrieve their online purchases from the outside or even curbside. The window also serves the community by transforming into a help center, where any purposeful cause – from feeding people to donating clothes and supplies – is set and ready to activate for the convenience of the customer.
Inside the store, a Pick-up box acts like an Amazon locker for customers who have made online orders but prefer to obtain their purchases from inside the store.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing that [Foot Locker] chose Compton to be a community store,” said Councilmember Isaac Galvan of Compton’s District 2, who says his 10-year-old son is a tennis shoe enthusiast. “This shows the buying power of the residents of Compton, and I’m very excited about the jobs [Footlocker] are going to create,” he said. Galvin says he was impressed with the after-school aspect of the store, and the free social services to be provided, such as tutoring and weekly mentoring sessions for the youth. “This will just inspire the next generation of the people of Compton. This is a great thing we have in the 2nd District. I Couldn’t be happier to come out and support it.”
Ken Side, vice president of the LA GEO, – Foot Locker, helped man the assembly of the store and gave tours of the space to various partners, enthusiasts, and the media. Standing socially distanced on the red carpet, Side spoke just before Mayor Aja Brown’s cutting of the ceremonious ribbon. “We thank everybody for welcoming us; Danny and everyone for giving us the opportunity to be here. It’s a really important step for us as a company. And we are really a part of the neighborhood and feel welcomed. Again, we are humbled and privileged,” he said.
Mayor Brown says the city met with Foot Locker over a year ago and felt they had a heartfelt program in creating the community-based Power Store in and for Compton. “We are honored to welcome the Community Foot Locker store to the City of Compton,“ she said. “We helped them with local businesses and local artists, and we really helped them customize the space for our community. And I know they will be great for our young people, a place where people can come together, to activate, so some small businesses can get their first step in providing merchandise to the community and beyond. This is a great way for corporate citizens to be an intergraded fabric in our community. So, welcome Foot Locker.”
The store officially opens on Wednesday, at 11 a.m., in the Compton Renaissance Plaza.
Additional Photos by E. Mesiyah McGinnis / Sentinel