What’s With This Pillow?

(Bandanna Running and Walking, 2021)

This is a replica of the tiger-striped pillow Jeff Johnson (Nike Employee #1), used to accent the black, Naugahyde couch in the original Nike (Blue Ribbon Sports) store on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, CA.

The iconic tiger pillow is the last physical artifact left from the original Pico Blvd. location. It is a symbol of the competitive spirit and passion formed in Los Angeles that was taken to Boston and eventually the world.

(3107 Pico Boulevard)

Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first official employee, is notable for many long-lasting efforts. Among those: instituting benchmarks of customer service and instilling an unwavering passion for product. And, of course, establishing the company’s first retail door.

In January of 1967, Johnson opened a running specialty store, Blue Ribbon Sports (Nike’s original name) at 3107 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. It was the first of its kind — a gathering space for a group of what Johnson describes as “oddball athletes” to talk training, racing and ultimately, footwear.

(Johnson inside 3107 Pico. Included in the assemblage of photos are a few he took himself.)