Like embryonic research labs, the top tier indies were designed to carry the raddest product, to test the boundaries of cutting-edge design and directional taste as well as create an environment where brands could tap directly into the ‘early adopter’ market.
The ‘cool guy!’ The ‘tastemaker!’ I hate those terms but you hear them used a lot and in this case, they define the ‘trickle down’ effect where a mass of suburban kids with dollars to spend mimic and buy into the ‘cool guy’ steez at a slower rotation of the fashion cycle. The so-called science of modern marketing is based on this simple principle, which in itself is a variation of the car industry’s decades old devotion to racing – ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday!’ As we saw recently with GM, Chrysler and Ford, things change pretty fast and when they do, it doesn’t matter how big you are, you better make sure you’re the first in line at the bomb shelter.
Even the most casual sneaker enthusiast would be aware that in recent times, things have soured somewhat. Goodfoot, Provider, the 400, Our Spot, Nort NY, Ryouki and Footpatrol (amongst many others) were all well known stores in their respective local markets. Sadly, for various reasons I am not totally privy to, none of them are currently in operation. Recent history would suggest that other names will soon join that list. Some will go bankrupt, others will reinvent their equity into fresh spinoffs while some owners will simply decide that having a regular 9-2-5 has benefits, not the least of which is a stable income and a distinct lack of melodrama in their lives.
Six years ago we ran a story called ‘How to Open a Sneaker Store’ which has had over 500,000 readers online. Presumably, at least one or two kids that read the story did just that and I hope they made enough paper to justify the store fit-out, not to mention the blood, sweat and tears that they invested. The irony that we’re now documenting the demise of many that shared that dream is not lost on me. I’m personally devo-ed for the stores concerned, many of whom I would consider good friends – even if some of them like the bankrupt Provider still owe Sneaker Freaker plenty of cash!
Check out our next feature: HOW TO LACE YOUR SNEAKERS!