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Packer Shoes Pump20 Interview (New Jersey)

Date: November 19 2009

By: Sneaker Freaker

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Of all the stores participating in Reebok's Pump20 collaborative project, none have been in the game for longer than New Jersey's Packer. This family-owned company has been in shoe biz for just over 100 years and is still going strong. Having earned their stripes with Reebok way back in the 80s, their invite to the Pump party was richly deserved. Speaking of just desserts, their Pump20 creation is a long overdue signature shoe for the Human Highlight Film himself, the explosive Dominique Wilkins! We caught up with Mike Packer for the lodown on the Packer story and the buzz behind their rim-shaking release.

Hey Mike. I just found out your store has been around for close to 100 years and has had an account with Reebok for over 25 years... How does that work? Has it always been in your family?
Packer Bros. was started by my grandfather and his brother and has been around and in the family for a bit over 100 years. My dad grew up above the original store in Yonkers, NY and it was a full family store – from men’s shoes and sneakers all the way down to toddlers. The store was always in that location until we opened up in Teaneck, NJ six years ago. Our relationship with Reebok started back in the early ‘80s – Freestyles, Phase 1s, Workouts and a bunch of other classic styles were all the rage.

I guess Packer makes the other guys in Pump20 look like newbies by comparison.
I wouldn’t call them newbies really. We may have been in business longer, but Reebok really touched every part of the world in pulling together Pump20 and everyone involved has the knowledge and passion for the project.  It’s great to have everyone pulling for this project to succeed.

Now tell me. Is this your first crack at designing a shoe for the store? How did you find the process?
It’s our first collaboration and to be honest, it felt pretty gratifying. When Matt Ting from Reebok called the first time and explained the concept of Pump20 and the reason we were chosen to be involved it validated everything we have been trying to build since we opened the shop in New Jersey.

I like your idea of celebrating Dominique Wilkins. I always thought Reebok should have given him his own pro-model!
What we wanted to do was create the All Star Game shoe that Dominique never had, something he would have worn once for that game only – a one and done type deal.  During his playing days the All Star Game was really the first time companies would either launch a shoe or do something creative to make the shoe stand out on TV. That was the first time anyone would see the shoe and then the hype would start from there.

So did you have that concept in mind when you initially sat down?

We always wanted to do something heritage based, involving Dominique.  To be honest, we had another concept involving Dominique and Jordan, basically turning the world upside down and asking the question “What If?” – What if Jordan had signed with Reebok and ‘Nique with Nike?  Creating that concept is one thing, bringing it to market for a number of reasons, is another…

Ha! No doubt. Kids outside America would be familiar with Jordan and Shaq and some of the other superstars. Despite Wilkins being rated in the top 50 players of all time, he doesn’t have the same profile does he? Why do you think that is?
Dominique not being included in the top 50 of all time is probably one of the biggest jokes when it comes to those type of lists.  There are plenty of players throughout the years, many included in the Top 50 that have said the same. Nique was a monster, pure and simple. He brought the game to literally another level with his talent.


I heard he was turning up to your launch party?

Luckily all the stars aligned on this one and he will be in town for the launch.  It’s not often you can combine the shoe and the personality behind it in an event like this… it should be great!

And tell us your favourite Pump of all time?
Toss up between Pump Graphlite and the Chang Insta Pump – both wearable classic silhouettes.

Thanks to Sneakernews for additional images. Be sure to wrap your ears around the DJ VinRoc mixtape released in conjunction with the Packer Pump that features game commentary of Dominique at his brilliant best... download it here.

Make sure you check out our complete Pump20 coverage!

Yo! Reebok Pump Up,  Air Out!: The Greatest Story Never Told

Reebok Pump Designer - Paul Litchfield

Dee Brown - The No-Look Dunk Interview

DJ Senatore - World's Greatest Reebok Pump Collector

Reebok Pump20 Anniversary Preview

The Complete Pump20 Birthday Lookbook

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