A one-day pop-up space for Slam Canada was met with overwhelming popularity in Vancouver.
So much so, that organizers have announced that the pop-up will reopen a final time this weekend.
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On Friday, Slam Canada opened a pop-up store on 1595 E Pender Street. The retail experience was operated by Vancouver-based Victory Creative Group, which invests in Slam and has been working to bring the brand closer to Vancouver’s basketball community.
Slam’s origins are historically known as a basketball magazine that was first printed in 1994. It has since expanded to become one of the biggest names in basketball media and storytelling.
“J. Cole has been quoted saying that if Michael was like Jesus, Slam is like the bible,” Mark Starkey, CEO of Victory Creative Group tells Daily Hive. “It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 30 years. Larry Johnson was on the original 1994 first edition print of Slam.”
Starkey explains in an interview that Victory joined the Slam family last February. And given the creative group’s deep involvement with Vancouver’s basketball community, it was only a matter of time before the city got a taste of Slam.
“We could not wait to share it with Vancouver,” he says. “We help chair and curate the Vancouver Basketball Foundation, the Vancouver Basketball Family, and vancouverbasketball.com.”
“So when Slam came to fruition in terms of our involvement, our first number one priority was how do we do a pop-up experience to help bring Slam right into the hands of Vancouver.”
The pop-up took several months of planning, including navigating how and when to do it. It was ultimately decided that it would launch during the same time as the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and the release of Handle With Care: The Legend of the Notic Streetball Crew.
The pop-up features an eclectic display of art, sneakers, and memorabilia from both basketball and Slam’s rich history. Notable pieces include Vancouver Grizzlies artwork constructed from Nike shoeboxes and even a pair of “Concord” Jordan 11s worn by Michael Jordan himself.
On the retail side, visitors can also find a carefully curated selection of Slam merchandise, including cover tees, hoodies, and shorts.
And even though the pop-up was only advertised for 36 hours, Starkey says that the response was phenomenal — something he credits to Vancouver’s rich basketball community.
“Vancouver’s basketball community is vibrant,” he says. “It is very, very real, it runs very, very deeply, and frankly it’s pretty beautiful. It’s just special, especially for not having a current NBA team — it’s impressive.”
“We didn’t know how a pop-up basketball-only retail space was gonna do.”
An hour before the experience opened to the public, there was already a lineup outside of the door. And within hours, they had sold out of several of their most popular products.
“We gave this community a day because we were testing how fans would react and they reacted incredibly well,” Starkey says. “It’s a testament to the demand for the Slam brand and our lovely game in BC. We’re going to reopen again on Sunday for limited hours.”
As for future plans for the pop-up and Slam’s presence in Canada, Starkey hints that Toronto will be the next major city they’ll be visiting. He adds that the pop-up will continue to operate during “moments of high energy” around basketball in Canada, with more opportunities for fans to visit down the line.
“Our dream is for this space to become a place to dream and do and connect,” he stresses. “And really become the glue in the basketball community in such a beautiful city in Vancouver. That’s the hope for this. The real beauty of Slam is that it connected people.”