Originally created 02/10/02

Wizard wear

About a half-dozen eager folks stayed up late to be the first in Augusta to buy the newest shoes from Nike - the Air Jordan XVII.

Packed in a metallic silver briefcase instead of a shoebox, the new shoes arrived in stores across the nation Saturday, just in time for the NBA All-Star game.

Just For Feet, off Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway, opened its doors at 12:01 a.m. Saturday with 36 available pairs. Fifteen minutes later, four pairs had walked out of the store.

Leonard Walton, 29, of Augusta, was among the first few to plunk down $200 plus tax to own a pair. The store closed at 1 a.m. and reopened at 10 a.m.

Mr. Leonard said he thought the price was a little high but he was willing to pay it because of the shoe's namesake - Michael Jordan, who came out of retirement this season.

Store manager Donnie Catlett said he expected more folks to wait up for the early morning shoe sale.

"It's not quite what we expected," he said Saturday afternoon.

The Finish Line at Augusta Mall had sold about 25 pairs - or 35 percent of its inventory - by 11 a.m., manager Titus Newborn said.

The store opened two hours early at 8 a.m. to sell the sneakers, with more than 40 people in line, he said. By 5:30 p.m., he had sold 48 pairs. His customers were primarily "working young men" from 18 to 25, Mr. Newborn said.

"I thought I'd get more business, but the night is young and my night business is usually stronger," he said.

At Foot Locker in Aiken Mall, sales were consistent throughout the day, store manager Felix Coleman said.

"That's the highest price for shoes that we've ever had," Mr. Coleman said.

"The $200 price tag is what separates the people who want them and the people who can get them."

Staff Writers Brandon Haddock and Tim Cox contributed to this article.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552.


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