Ever since Spike Lee’s Mars Blackmon said Michael Jordan’s shoes were the reason he dominates on the basketball court in Nike ads, the world’s passion for sneakers has transformed into obsession. And now, one New York City teenager is cashing in our love of kicks.
Chase “Sneakers” Reed, 16, has tapped into the profitable potential of shoe culture by opening the world’s first sneaker’s only pawnshop in Harlem. Sneaker Pawn allows people to sell their high-end collectible shoes for cash. The most expensive pair of shoes, a pair of Lebron Crown Jewels, goes for $1,400.
“I used to ask my father for money for sneakers, and he would ask me for something in return,” Chase said. “I was basically pawning my old sneakers to my father, and it started to click after a while.” His $30,000 shoe collection was what helped bankroll the one of a kind store.
Troy Reed, Chase’s dad, said that his son has always loved sneakers and fashion. “So, I sat him down one day and told him that it was time to turn his passion into money,” his father said.
The two said the shop has quickly become a neighborhood spot for teens to come and hang out after basketball practice or school.
“We’re having a good time,” said Chase, in between phone calls and haggling with customers.
Sneaker Pawn works like any pawnshop. They tell you how much the shoes are worth, give the cash to you on loan and then the customer has 30 days to repay them. The shoes must be mint condition or lightly used. The most coveted are the Crown Jewels or vintage Air Jordans. Sneaker Pawn also refurbishes and customizes sneakers.
Reed said that there are a variety of reasons that people want to pawn their shoes. “Teenagers came in to pawn their sneakers for prom,” he said. “We’ve had people come in who don’t know what to do with a dead relative’s sneaker collection, but need money for the funeral.”
Entering just his junior year of high school at Fredrick Douglass Academy this fall, Chase has already made one dream come true. He hopes he can keep that trend going when high school is over.
“I want to go to Howard University or UCLA. I love the Cali lifestyle,” he said.