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In Toulouse, he is a reference in basketball: an independent trader challenges the giant Nike

Laurent Caramelle, owner of Game Time does not want to be ostracized by Nike. (©Maxime Noix)

Since 2003, Laurent Caramel created a real temple of basketball in Toulouse. To the number 6 rue Temponièreshis shop Game Time is a mandatory place for all NBA fans.

In conflict with Nike

But since 2017, NBA necessarily rhymes with Nike. The comma brand became that year the official equipment supplier of all American basketball franchises.

A news that turns out, a few years later, to be very problematic for independent outlets, such as Game Time.

In the month of December 2020, Laurent received a letter from Nike : “They told me that from May 2022, I will no longer be able to sell their products in my shop. So we’re talking about Nike products, but also about the Jordan brand they own.”

In just over a year, the trader will therefore be deprived of products which represent approximately half of its sales area.

“I don’t want to work for the brand for free”

You should know that Laurent is not not the only one in this case. After explaining his situation on social media, many independent sellers contacted him to explain that they were going through the same thing.

He therefore inquired: “More than 40 points of sale were removed from Nike’s lists last year in France, it is really a desire on the part of the brand”.

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To stay in the small papers of Nike, there is a solution, but it does not satisfy him: “They want us to post all the time on Instagram, Facebook etc… And especially that we organize vents to do the buzz around their products. Already, I don’t have the space, and I don’t want to work for free to advertise the brand“.

“A brand’s state of mind must belong to its customers”

For the owner of Game Time, being deprived of Nike and Jordan products will more than just a financial conflict. A true basketball fan, he has always put the brand on a pedestal.

Like many other people, I grew up with Nike and Jordan. I love the product, love the brand. You have to remember that it is us, the independents, who have brought the brand to life. It’s a brand for athletes and for basic performance, even if today it’s more fashionable.

Laurent CaramelOwner of Game Time

What interest for the brand?

So Laurent wonders, why does Nike refuse to sell its products? “If we count all the independent sellers, they are depriving themselves of a lot of money. Apparently, they decided not to have any more intermediary, and that all would be sold on their site, or in the shops which make their publicity”.

But for several years now, he has had problems restocking with their products: “It’s weird, stocks are very low, I come to wonder if they don’t have a production problem. But to find out, it’s impossible, you’d have to go into their factories”.

A bitter observation for him, who knew the brand in its infancy : ” I even met Phil Knight, the brand’s creator, I have a picture with him. I would like to see him again to tell him what they are doing with his baby, and how they are treating the fans.

He carries the new director of Nike less in his heart: “John Donahoe arrived in January 2020, he is the former CEO of eBay, he creates the scarcity of Nike products, which are resold much more expensive on the site of resale between private individuals, that makes me wonder”.

He bounces with the retro jerseys

The seller does not intend to be discouraged, he has already started to prepare for “after Nike” “Most of my clients play basketball for leisure, they don’t need the latest equipment from Nike. I therefore positioned myself on the retro jerseys of legendary players offered by the Mitchelle & Ness brand”.

He also works with other brands, such as Champion, which offer basketball apparel.

He is ready to go to court

Even though he knows that it could be very complicatedthe Toulousain is ready to launch a legal fight against the American firm : “The consumer is neglected, and Nike does not care about its own history”.

For all these reasons, he is ready to rush into any small fault: ” If there is a breach, I go. I talked about it with my lawyer, we’ll see what we can do. Already, we will see if the decisions taken by the American firm are correct concerning European law. My goal is to be able to sell Nike, not to make money with a lawsuit. I know this is a process that can take many years”.

If his fight has been compared to that of David against Goliath, he prefers to see himself as a Don Quixote. Who could be followed by other traders in his case.

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