Destination for Sneakerheads: Elite Mr. Alan’s Opening A New Detroit Location
Love sneakers? Gotta have the best and latest? Head to Elite Mr. Alan’s new Detroit store at Grand River and McNichols, opening Nov. 1.
The store is the latest from the 42-year-old family-owned sneaker and sports apparel retail chain headquartered in Redford.
Its newest store has a customized room dedicated to Jordan merchandise, featuring a floor resembling a basketball court and videos playing Michael Jordan’s top games.
CEO Jacob Bishop, 30, son of now-retired founder Alan Bishop, is no stranger to sneaker culture. Jacob, who grew up in West Bloomfield and had his bar mitzvah at Temple Israel, left Michigan State University in his senior year to move to Florida with his older brother Adam and launch Soles Inc., a high-end sneaker boutique, which now has four locations in the Sunshine State.
“I spent 10 years in Florida then moved back to Michigan in 2012 to work with Mr. Alan’s,” Bishop said. “I ended up falling in love with Michigan again and decided it was going to be my permanent home.”
Upon taking the title of CEO of Mr. Alan’s, Bishop, single and a resident of Royal Oak, honed in on a new vision for the company. “I spent most of my time on strategy, branding and vision, focusing on expansion,” he said.
First he worked on remodeling the stores, giving each a cool and fresh new look. Then he brought in more exclusive brands. Then came the name change to “Elite Mr. Alan’s.”
“We wanted customers to know this wasn’t the same old Mr. Alan’s they used to know,” he said.
The expansion of the company, which includes plans to expand its footprint by 50 percent within the next two years, follows the trajectory seen in the growth of the sneaker industry, which reached $22 billion by 2013, a U.S. record, and has continued to grow for more than a decade, according to SportsOneSource.
The company carries more than 50 different brands and vendors, including local vendors such as Lionblood, Detroit Made and District 81. Recent merchandise releases, such as Kanye West Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 sneakers and exclusive limited edition Starter jackets celebrating Detroit sports teams, have seen customers lining up outside Elite Mr. Alan’s stores, sometimes overnight.
A Community Partner
The company is also actively involved with the community. “The connection of family and community is an important part of how I am running and growing the company — and the roots for that thinking come from my Jewish faith,” said Bishop, who went on a Birthright trip during college and remains in contact with the IDF soldiers he met there.
“The philosophy is not only part of our employee culture, but also in the outreach we lend to the community.”
During the Flint water crisis, the company collected and distributed water for residents. Singer Keyshia Cole attended the water drive at Elite Mr. Alan’s, and the event got some national attention via TMZ. More than 5,000 cases of bottled water along with 3,000 gallon jugs of water were collected during the event.
Elite Mr. Alan’s has also been involved with raising money for Detroit PAL and JDRF. It held a basketball camp with the Fab Five and recently employed a homeless man discovered by Channel 955’s Mojo in the Morning.
In November, Elite Mr. Alan’s is sponsoring the creation of an 8-foot sneaker made of cans by Neumann/Smith Architecture. The display of cans will be at the Wayne State University campus, with all cans to be donated to local hunger relief organizations in December for the holidays.
“We strive to embed our brand into the Detroit neighborhoods and communities because that’s where Elite Mr. Alan’s originally planted its roots,” said Elite Brand Ambassador Ty Mopkins. “We strongly believe in developing personal relationships with our customer base and community influencers to positively impact those around us.”
Elite Mr. Alan’s currently has 12 locations in Metro Detroit and Grand Rapids. Next up is a new store at Northwestern Highway and Orchard Lake Road. “This is close to where I grew up so I’m really excited about that one,” Bishop said.
After that will come a second store in Grand Rapids, then Lansing and a few more in Detroit. The company, which has close to 400 employees, is also parent to Pogo Skate Shop in Birmingham and to the four Florida-based Soles Inc. stores.
By Jackie Headapohl, Managing Editor
Former JN intern Danny Schwartz contributed to this story.