Slam Dunk

Charles Payne
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Posted: Sep 02, 2012 12:01 AM

They're playing Basketball
We love that Basketball
They're playing Basketball
We love that Basketball
-Kurtis Blow

So, I'm rushing to take my son to film school in the Bronx, but there's no time, so I tell him he has to catch a cab. He wasn't too keen with the idea, which is understandable for a suburban kid not used to jumping in strange cars, but there was no time.

We were on 125 t, which is the main road in Harlem where the world-famous Apollo site along with large crowds and hustle and bustle. As my son made the transition to the taxi, I looked across the street and there was a huge line all the way down the block. At 8:50 in the morning, I'm thinking job fare, job openings, or something being given out for free.

Instead it was a line of people trying to get inside a store!

House of Hoops

The store was the House of Hoops. It's a great looking store with a two-story window front, but all I saw inside were tee-shirts and sneakers. But, with a line like that you could imagine the profit margin on those items must be gigantic. So I began to dig into this phenomenon. It turns out there are 62 locations, including Guam, Paris, and Barcelona.

On their website I watch a video titled "perfection" starring Kevin Durant and the Olympians from present and past basketball teams.

The site is certainly exciting and some would say inspirational.

I also discover you can invest in this company as it's a division of Foot Locker (FL). Brilliant stuff as this is what old brands must do from time to time. Smart businesses create their own competition. I'm thinking this might be a future spinoff candidate not unlike Chipotle Mexican Grill was spun off from McDonald's.

In the meantime Footlocker actually closed a bunch of flagship stores, in addition to some of these stores, too: Foot Action, Lady Footlocker, Champs. There are the same numbers of Kids Footlocker as a year ago. Brands growing include CCS (hip skateboard store up to 22 from 16) Footlocker international and franchises.

I'm not sure where they count House of Hoops but its presence must be felt. Sure, it's anecdotal but it's very convincing.

Favorite Sport

Basketball was clearly the favorite sport of Kurtis Blow but shopping is the favorite of Americans. A recent report shows median income falling since the recession ended in June 2009 yet the stock market has been rocking since then. It's counterintuitive but there's more.

The stock market is higher than it was back in June 2009 but that's the only thing that corroborates the notion the recession is over (I give the majority of the stock market rally to the global economy and oversold conditions to start with).

That long line to give away money at House of Hoops is repeated at other places, including my son's favorite store- Supreme. Last Saturday there was an hour wait to get inside the store (see photo) but they let us in because they know I'm a great customer.

The line for House of Hoops was much longer.

Taking off Like Dr. J

I know there are many schools of thought on the economy and lots of terms but I still say it's trickle up economics. People, especially poor people, are always in a rush to spend their money.

Often they buy things they can't afford. I get the idea of buying something to make you feel good, although waiting long enough and with sacrifice those same things can be bought down the road without wrecking a wallet. For now I think trickle up stays in play for the American shopper and for Footlocker and its stroke of genius-House of Hoops.