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Nike Announces ‘Refurbished,’ Its Gently Used Shoe-Selling Program


Being a casual sneakerhead is no easy life. Ahead of planned drops you have to camp out in front of your computer like you’re trying to buy Beyoncé tickets. Fumble your keystrokes and stock evaporates, only to resurface at a premium price on secondary marketplaces like eBay and a cottage industry of dedicated apps. Surprise drops? Try excelling in a traditional workplace when you have to excuse yourself from the boardroom to frantically snatch up a limited release. And we won’t even get into fakes, forgeries, and outright scams. Well, finally there may be a better way: Nike Refurbished , which was announced on Monday, April 13.

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Nike Refurbished, from a consumer standpoint, makes perfect sense. If you’re buying sneakers to actually wear, rather than hide in their box on a shelf, you don’t care about the original packaging or release-day freneticism. In fact, beyond the shoe itself, the second most important consideration is the price — and the NR program makes them cheaper. Here’s how it works: Dissatisfied hype beasts and regular joes alike return gently used shoes within a 60-day grace period. These shoes are then evaluated, cleaned to like-new condition, repackaged, and replaced on the shelves at a reduced price in one of many nationwide locations, carrying a seal of authenticity as well as their own 60-day return period.

For those shoes deemed too thrashed for resale, footwear is either donated to communities in need or ground into a fine rubber material that the company then utilizes in the construction of track, court, and playground surfaces.


From a corporate standpoint, Nike now has a potential home — and profit — for what we can only guess are tens of thousands of returned shoes every year. Where once they were a loss in the ledger and a headache in storage, they become a second chance for consumers who may have missed them first go-around and don’t mind less-than-mint footwear.

And from an environmental standpoint, the program fits with Nike’s stated goal of a dramatic decrease in its environmental impact. In a release the following day after it announced the Refurbished program, its Chief Sustainability Officer committed the company aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 500,000 tons over the next five years, as well as the long-term goal to join with other makers around the world to reach a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050.

“Every company has a footprint,” said Noel Kinder, Nike’s CSO. “Our goal is, and always will be, that Nike’s footprint helps to shape a better world.”

But, again, to business: With this new green initiative, Nike is poised to sell a shit-ton of gently used shoes.

“I think this is a billion dollar business in five years,” wrote Darren Rovell, a veteran industry journalist, on Twitter following the announcement.

Based on its announcement, Nike stores on both coasts, as well as in the Southeast and Midwest, will be part of the pilot program, with an expanded rollout of additional locations to come within the year and beyond.

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Jon Gugala
Features Writer
Jon Gugala is a freelance writer and photographer based in Nashville, Tenn. A former gear editor for Outside Magazine, his…
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