I had waited all summer for it. October was around the corner and that meant it was basketball season. But more importantly, it meant my teammates and I would decide on what shoes to buy.
The coach ordered uniforms and secured sponsorship as well as a gym for practices, but the fourth grade boys agreed on what shoes would accent our blue and gold uniforms. Troy pulled us all together after our first meeting with Coach B. and he yanked a shiny pair of Nikes from his backpack. We all huddled around Troy in excitement, gazing and chattering amongst ourselves. Troy instructed us, “These will be the team shoes,” as he pointed out the trim color, “so just make sure you get the dark blue ones with the ‘Nike’ on the heel.” We had our mission and each of us left Saturday’s practice intent on getting the right shoes.
That Monday after school, we went shopping where we always did for school clothes, toys, and kid’s stuffRichman Gordman. Mom made it clear that we would get the shoes so long as they fit within our budget. I was first into the store and marched towards the shoe section that was located right near the entrance. Boxes of Nikes, Hush Puppies, Converse, and Keds lined the wall with their colorful boxes neatly stacked one on top of the other. Within minutes I’d found the brand and style I was looking for on the display shelf. Mom picked up the box and examined the contents, I sensed a problem when she put the box down. I tried explaining that these were the shoes I needed to have; these were the shoes my friends and teammates would buy; and even exaggerated by telling her that coach asked us to get these.
While in the middle of my passionate lecture, dad brought over a pair of Converse that I recognized. Magic Johnson wore the very same purple and gold shoes for his L.A. Lakers, whose colors were similar to my league uniforms. “Nobody wears Nikes. Who’s heard of this brand? Converse have been around forever,” he said to me, “All the great ones wore themthey have history.” Mom stood in the background comparing prices, and I could feel her nodding in agreement at my dad’s approach because for her the Converse cost less than the Nikes. We’d found my shoes. We headed home where I took the shoes out of the box and wore them around the house to break them in. I did this for five consecutive days: returning after school; changing out of my uniform and into comfortable clothes; putting on my gym socks and sneakers; and walking around the house in my new shoes.
On the sixth day, I woke up early for Saturday practice and had mom drop me off at the gym. By now, the shoes were broken in and I wore them from the car to the gym with care, looking down on their shine. When I arrived at the door I met Troy, who saw my shoes and asked, “What are those?”
What is your earliest memory of brand patronage?
What drove your decision to be loyal to that product or company?
How do you feel about that brand today?