When you think of budget priced sneakers, Hush Puppies and velcro-strapped clompers come to mind, not Patrick Ewings and Jordans! It seems too good to be true, but as Manolo Prado (el cheapo bastardo extraordinaire) tells us, there’s a million and one bargains out there, you just have to have your thrifty game on lock. This guy is so cheap, he’ll wait three years to pull the trigger – all so he doesn’t have to break a fifty! We needed to get schooled in his tight-ass ways, so we hit up the scrooge to see just how low he goes.

Yo Manolo, tell us who you are and what you do!
I’m from College Park Georgia (by way of Panama) and I rep Embassy Music Board brotha! I’m a hip-hop artist, fashion designer and a part-time shoe collector… so cliché but who cares, that’s what I do.

You pride yourself on being a cheap-ass don’t you?
It started for me when I was 15 years old. Having a job in the mall and a little bit of my own money with no bills to pay, I would come across $20 sneakers all the time. I had insider info on when markdowns were going to happen, so from there it just took off. I would buy shoes just because of the price not because I needed them or planned on wearing them. But as time pushed on and I had no clothes to match the kicks, I would just put them in the closet. So next thing you know, they have become collectables. I get the ‘cheap-assness’ from my mother. If you all think I’m cheap, you don’t want to see this woman in action!

Was it out of necessity or was it more the thrill of the challenge for you?
It was really just more of an addiction, but it is a challenge and a good one. The fun part is seeing a shoe you want like the Ken Griffeys drop so drastically in price. I know the shoe is going to sell out as soon as it drops, so being as cheap as I am, I know I’m not going to pay $150 for the shoe. Instead, you get in good with an employee, convince them to put a pair on hold for forever, wait until they drop to a good ‘before discount price’, then I hit them with my 30% employee ‘family and friends discount’ (40% depending on which store we are talking about) and next thing you know I have just copped a fresh pair of kicks for 40 bucks with ease!
Another thrill is when you don’t have a hook up and you just have to wait on the shoe to get marked down to the price you want to pay for it. I’ve waited months, a year and sometimes even three years to cop a bargain. What occurs is, a store may have many locations all over the country, some of which don’t sell out of shoes ever, so all you do is keep checking in on the shoe, seeing if it’s dropped in price, and once it reaches a price you are willing to pay, you order it.

It works every single time.

So it’s all about the relationship?
Employee relationships are very important when you are as cheap as I am. It grants you privileges that others just don’t have. I get personal calls from store managers when a shoe that I’ve been eyeing off hits 30 bucks (my Gotta Get Em’! price). I’m allowed to put shoes on hold for long periods of time and the best part is getting the 30-40% off already clearance prices.

Well I’m sure you win points for supporting your locals. What are some of the best spots to find a sneaker steal?
Where I’m located, you have too many spots to find steals. Finishline, DTLR (Down Town Locker Room), Wish, Rag-o-rama, Ross, TJ Maxx, The Athlete’s Foot, Nike Outlet, Timberland Outlet and Champs clearance store just to name a few.

Are you copping online as well?
There’s only a couple of spots I will cop off online because they drop prices low but a lot of these sites don’t drop prices low enough for me. I deal heavy with a site called Designer Athletic and Zappos, but that’s just about it for online because I don’t like paying shipping fees!

Tell us about the best bargain you’ve ever scored?
I was at work and my sister, who at the time was working for Foot Action, wouldn’t stop calling my cell phone. So I go to the restroom to call her back and she tells me that they had a system issue. The AJ1 black/gold patent leathers were ringing up at $4.99 and she had one pair left in my size. Her coworker had put them on hold for another customer, so she played dumb to that fact and sold them to me.Besides that, the Patrick Ewings that I purchased for six, ten and fifteen bucks were the next best thing.

I was at the end of doing my daily rounds of thrift store and shoe shopping, when I saw that one of my favourite stores, Athlete’s Foot on Tara Blvd was near closing.

By the time I got there the store was closed, but I stopped to peek in the window to see what they had on sale and lo and behold there they were - Patrick Ewings stacked up on the floor! You would have thought I struck oil the way I was acting, I mean this was one of my favorite shoe brands growing up. I was in front of that store at 8am the next day (they opened at 9am) and I bought all the Ewings they had in my size and my brother’s size. I ended up walking out with eight of the ten pairs they had. I spent 75 bucks that day on Ewings. That’s also the same day I copped the Kevin Johnson Converse. The owner was an Asian cat who said that he didn’t believe in trashing shoes and that he’d had them in the back of his store for up to 12-13 years. Or so he says!

In this economic climate, you should be writing a book on this son! Are a lot of people stumped as to how you can actually buy seven pairs of kicks for under $170?
Yeah they actually are. People really don’t believe me, that’s why I started the blog and the videos, so it’s proof that I do this for real. Anyone could, they just choose not to. They have the nerve to ask me ‘where did you get those from?’ Hell – the mall, off the clearance shelf - the same store you just walked out of! No one seems to take heed and follow the ‘laws of sale’ so they usually just give me the money and I go shopping for them.

You said you buy stuff you don’t like. What value do they hold living in a box in your room?
I look at it like this… they cost me damn near nothing, why not keep them! If I could sell them for thousands upon thousands of dollars I would, so holla if you know anyone who wants them.