The NikeLab 21 Mercer Store Is Closing for Good in January

Nike confirms that the store, which has been home to the brand's most exclusive product releases for more than a decade, will be shuttered in 2023.

The storefront of Nike's NikeLab 21 Mercer store in 2017, featuring an Acronym x Nike display

The NikeLab store at 21 Mercer in 2017. Image via Atomic Design

The storefront of Nike's NikeLab 21 Mercer store in 2017, featuring an Acronym x Nike display

Nike will close its NikeLab store at 21 Mercer Street in New York City’s SoHo district in January, the brand tells Complex. The store has long been one of Nike’s most important, hosting A-list parties with superstar endorsers and launches for the brand’s most exclusive sneakers.

Sneaker industry sources had told Complex that Nike’s lease on the 21 Mercer space was expiring in January and that the store was set to close. In response to an inquiry on Friday, Nike confirmed that it would close the store in January 2023.

“While we’ll be closing 21 Mercer as a physical space, we will carry its community-focused vision through key activations and our existing NYC retail locations, our digital ecosystem, as well as our marketplace partners,” the brand said.

Nike said that as the store closes, staff there are being encouraged to continue their employment at the company by applying for other roles at Nike.

The store opened in August 2008 as 21 Mercer, its debut marked by a block party attended by the likes of Spike Lee and Roger Federer. Mercer was famous in part for its bespoke service, a sneaker customization offering that let shoppers book an appointment to design their own Air Force 1s or Air Max 1s for around $800. At its peak, the store was a must-visit destination that ushered in a new era for sneaker culture.

In its early days, 21 Mercer functioned not only as a Nike-owned sneaker boutique and marketing tool but also as a kind of meeting place for New York’s streetwear cognoscenti.

“That’s what I loved most about the store—it was truly a hub,” says Samantha Goretski, who was one of the original staff members at the store. “People who visited became like permanent fixtures, extended store family.”

21 Mercer’s launches of highly sought-after sneakers like the Nike Air Yeezys or the “Galaxy” Foamposites fostered an environment that was at times hostile. A neighboring condo sued Nike over the store’s releases in 2018, complaining that the long lineups resulted in fights, yelling, and public intoxication. Goretski, who did a year in her first stint at Mercer before returning in 2011 as assistant manager, remembers chaos around the release of Kanye West’s first Air Yeezy at the store.

“We definitely received threats and needed security to escort us to train stations,” she says.

The shop closed for a month for renovations in the summer of 2014 and reopened that June as NikeLab, a sleek new concept that retained its focus on limited-edition product while orienting a bit more toward contemporary sneakers rather than pure retros.

For the past few years, NikeLab has no longer been Nike’s biggest draw even in SoHo thanks to the massive Nike SoHo that opened in 2016. Still, the brand has kept NikeLab a focal point, using it to distribute shoes via in-store pickups reserved through its SNKRS app and recently installing exhibits there that celebrate the history of Nike.