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Growing up in the 1990s, I was obsessed with the particular Eastbay catalog. I’d spend hours and hours poring over the latest issue, like a detective combing through mounds of evidence.

I’d closely examine the newest sneakers worn by my favorite athletes – Ken Griffey Jr, Shaquille O’Neal, Deion Sanders – circling my personal favorite ones.

To me, it was like the Sears catalog, only a lot hipper.

So I was especially bummed out when Eastbay’s parent company, Foot Locker, announced that it would be winding down the brand as part of the company consolidation and ending the list.

The last issue has already been sent out, but in its heyday, Eastbay was the particular place in order to check out the latest sneakers plus sports apparel. The catalog was known for the robust selection of athletic wear and sports jerseys, carrying items you normally couldn’t find in stores. If a person played sports activities within the 90s, there was a good chance you came across an Eastbay directory while looking for gear for the upcoming season.

According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, “Eastbay was the first time that you could bring the mall to your home. ” DePaula was also obsessed with the particular catalog as a youngster. “I always joke with people, I has been reading the sports page and Eastbay with my cereal every morning, ” he says.

Back then, I knew I would never have the money to afford the particular Nike shoes or Starter brand jackets I coveted so much, but it was still fun to learn about all the technology and features each brand put into their products. The level of detail included in every single listing had been unmatched, down to how much each pair of shoes weighed in ounces.

Eastbay was founded in 1980 by Art Juedes plus Rick Gering, who began by selling running shoes out of the van in north-central Wisconsin. The organization grew into a national mail-order retailer and, eventually, was bought by Foot Locker within 1997.

At its peak, it employed more than 2, 000 people at its headquarters inside Wausau, Wi. and handled distribution for Foot Locker, Eastbay and Champs Sports. Over the years, that will number dwindled down in order to approximately 200 employees. According to Footlocker, most associated with them will be laid off by April later this year.

Eastbay itself pivoted to online sales years ago because of how the internet has changed how sneakers are marketed plus sold.

Social media and apps can hype new shoe releases much quicker than a catalog can, plus large shoe companies are increasingly selling directly to consumer s without a retailer.

While the brand name might be going away, it’s hard not to remember that their reach was once everywhere.

NBA player and avid sneaker collector, PJ Tucker, recently told the LA Times that the particular Eastbay directory was his “bible” growing up as a kid. “I would look at it like it was a school textbook, inch he said.

Since the announcement, social media offers been flooded with posts reminiscing about the mail-order list.

The Instagram account, Eastbay Archives , shares pictures of listing covers plus pages associated with retro issues from the glory days of the particular catalog. It only started in October 2022 but provides quickly risen to nearly 10, 000 followers since word that the company was coming to a close.

The account’s posts have racked up dozens of comments of individuals professing their adoration with regard to the old photos of catalog pages and their favorite sneakers, like one user who stated, ” they just don’t make them like this particular anymore . “

ESPN’s Nick DePaula thinks Eastbay was kind of the first iteration associated with message boards and Instagram for trainer culture. You could flip through one catalog and see some of the most popular models such as the Jordan 11’s, Nike Air Max 95’s and Penny Hardaway editions, all in 1 place.

“It was the first portal in to understanding the industry, ” DePaula said. “It was a great database behind the guise of a selling catalog. When you’re 10 or 12 years aged, you don’t think of it in that way. inch

As I’ve done my own reminiscing for this story, I have realized some of the styles that will influence me to this day kind of come from the Eastbay catalogs.

Even if We never actually got that pair associated with Deion Sanders Nike Air DT Maximum 96 I actually once saw in Eastbay’s pages plus still want today.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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