Interview and photograph by Florence Noble
One of the friendliest faces around Britomart, the owner-operator of Nike Britomart is an old-school sneaker head who loves nothing more than family time.
Are you from Auckland?
No, I’m from Siesta Key, Florida.
What brings you here?
Oh you know, this Kiwi chick named Kate. Ha ha.
Did you meet over there?
We met snowboarding in Colorado, 21 years ago. Bit of a fluke really.
How long have you been here?
11 years. I’ve had the Nike franchise for 8 years.
How do you get to Britomart?
Some days I drive my big black truck and other days I ride my little orange Vespa. It’s all branded up Nike.
What do you do here?
I do everything from taking out the trash to selling, merchandising. Mostly customer services that’s my thing. I’m a real people person. I can read people really well.
Yeah? What can you read about me?
Erm I would read about you… Are you from Christchurch?
Well, right now I’m not in read mode, I’m in interview mode. But when people come to the door what I do is take a picture of them in my brain. Know what size shoe you are, what size jean you’re wearing, size top you are. Like yesterday I had a girl in here and she had this little helmet and had her bike parked out there on the prongs sitting up high and I was like “Oh, you’ve got your Amsterdam look going on.” And she was like “Oh I just moved here from Amsterdam three weeks ago!” I don’t do “Hi’ or ‘Can I help you?” it’s boring. It’s not in my language, you know?
How did you get into it?
I started at a shop that sold sporting goods when I was 16 years old, in 1986 in Florida, selling the original Pegasus, the Original Jordan 1, Original Jordan 2, so I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I’ve been retailing for 34 years. I’ve got sneakers in my shoe case over there from when I was 16. So it sounds cocky, but I’m a real authentic. I’ve been a sneakerhead, collecting shoes before it was even a thing. You know everyone made fun of me when I was younger like: “What are you doing wasting your money on all that stuff?”
When I moved here to New Zealand, on a piece of paper I wrote “Nike, surf shop, tennis coach, actor.” You know things I wanted to reinvent myself with. Within a year I was part owner of The Department Store, which led me to being owner of the Nike store.
And the acting?
No. I guess I do that every day! I thought it would be cool since I was a kid, but I don’t really know. But you would never be able to own a Nike store in America because it’s not a franchise there. Here I didn’t go on a list to get a store, Nike came after me like they do with their athletes.
How many shoes do you have?
Oh about three hundred now…
What’s your idea of fun?
I love surfing, being on the beach, being with my family. Probably one of my favourite things to do is go surfing with my kids.
It’s Father’s day coming up. Do you get spoiled on Father’s Day?
For me the best thing about Father Day is the card. I love what my kids write to me. That warms my heart.
Do they ever write anything so cheesy it’s too far?
No. I’m American, you can’t be too cheesy!
Got any plans for father’s day?
I think we’re going snowboarding, the whole family.
I will never be a father. Is it awesome?
It’s the best thing ever. And it keeps getting better. Now being able to go surfing with them, playing tennis with them, being able to have adult conversations with them is really cool. I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. Parties in Ibiza don’t compare to being a father.