So you wanna be a sneakerhead…
Well, what it means to be one varies depending on who you ask and where you are in the world.
Growing up in my neighborhood, if you consistently got the latest popular sneaker on release day, that made you a sneakerhead. We weren’t using that word, but it was understood. Getting sneakers before they actually released in retail stores wasn’t everyone’s goal and neither was chasing down an old pair on eBay. What was current was all that mattered. Which is why I ignorantly, yet perhaps secretly sacrificially (I hope that’s how God sees it), gave away my last pair of sneakers each time a new one dropped. But it wasn’t because I didn’t value them, each sneaker was special to me.
I wore Jordans because I wanted to fly like Mike, Deions so I could do the Primetime dance when we played touch football in the neighborhood, and Kidds because I wanted be the court general that Jason Kidd was. While of course you wanted people to notice your shoes, back then, it wasn’t just about that. The shoes told stories, and the sneakerhead was listening and reading them for him/herself. Nowadays, it’s just different. But I’m not one of those sneaker snobs looking down on people who get sneakers because they just like them or because they’ll look nice with their outfit. Sneakers aren’t people, they don’t command respect from everyone. But what I will kindly offer as my first tip for the sneakerhead in training is this: Don’t do it for the likes.
Step 1: Do it For You
Don’t get caught up trying to impress people, because we will follow someone else on Instagram and soon forget all about your page. You should buy sneakers because you like them and share them on social media because you like sharing what you like. Do it for you.
Step 2: Take Your Time
Another thing to accept EARLY on is: You can’t get them all at once.
Unless ‘money ain’t a thang’, there are too many sneakers to try and go after them all. Just when you’ve secured a sought after pair, another one will release and you’ll be trying to figure out how to keep up your habit. And even if finances aren’t the issue, the collections you may have seen and admired took years to build. They involved trades, connections, relationships, eBay bidding wars, getting sold fakes, spending more for a pair of shoes than they should have, and other untold secrets. Just do a little research on Jumpmanbostic, and you’ll see what I mean. Dude has over 700 pairs of just Jordans!
Step 3: Get On Your Ebay Grind
You might have to come over to the ‘dark side’ of buying used shoes. Some shoes are only going to be reasonably priced because they have been worn. But worn doesn’t have to mean worn out. For instance, I HAD to have a pair of Black Cement 3s, but in deadstock (brand new) condition they would have been more than double the original retail price. Instead, I found a gently used pair on eBay for just about retail, and you can’t tell me nothin! HA HA!
So, get you an eBay and Paypal account and start hunting. Check out stores like RoundTwo (roundtwostore.com) and search for other Sneaker Consignment stores that don’t charge an arm and a leg. You know, like mine (eatdrknbuysnkrs.bigcartel.com).
*As a bonus, you might want to learn how to paint, because a little leather paint can turn your used sneakers into like new. Do your homework first and gather a few test pairs from a thrift store. Check out guys like this, stores like this, and of course YouTube for how-to videos. A good friend restored some Yeezys just by watching some Youtube videos and making a few store runs—just for him to stunt in them and then put them in a case! But I digress.
Tip 4: Beware of Fakes
Here’s the big one. Here’s what will save you some heartbreak and embarrassment: BEWARE OF FAKES.
Yes, fake versions of sneakers. There are factories overseas dedicated to producing quality variations of popular sneakers without approval from the official company producing the shoe. They are shipping them to US buyers and those buyers are selling them to consumers as guaranteed authentic. How can you tell the real from the fake?
Again, that will require research. And if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes there’s no way of knowing until you get the sneaker in the mail and see for yourself. But if you use PayPal, you can always get your money back. It just might take a while. Early release pairs that are in-hand months ahead of time are a red flag, but not always. People know people and have connections, but just know you’re taking a risk. And if you take that risk, and discover that they are fakes, don’t front in them. Return them or cut your losses if you can’t get a refund. But do not, I repeat, DO NOT WEAR THEM. It’s just…wrong. Some people even go as far as taking pictures in them and posting them on Instagram. There’s no better way to say this than to just say that it’s whack! (lol) And it might even be ungodly because it’s bearing false witness to the validity of something, right? God is not pleased.
There’s a lot more I’ve come to realize as my love for sneakers was rekindled and more that some OGs can probably share with you that I can’t. Like say…If you want new releases, know that while you used to be able to walk into a store at 1pm and grab the latest release, most Jordans now require a 6am wake-up call to go stand in line at a sneaker store, or maybe even camping out the night before for special releases. Even more extreme, stores like Footlocker have instituted raffles for popular sneakers in order to prevent altercations and make us feel like we’re playing the lottery just to get a pair of sneakers. Man, times have changed! You can try online, but you’ll need a fast internet speed, and you might need an assist. Computer geeks have figured out how to add shoes to carts faster than a human manually can, so shoes sell out in minutes online before most of us have had a chance to even brush our teeth! I can’t officially recommend this because there could be some ethical issues, but you might want to google ATC orders just so you know what I’m talking about. It just might blow your mind.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for this edition of Sneakerhead Saturday. If you have anymore tips, feel free to share below. And if you haven’t already, check out my Instagram page (Instagram.com/eatdrknbuysnkrs) to buy, sell, trade, and just appreciate the sneakers we love. Til next time…
Caresse Spencer is a freelance writer who has appeared on Huff Post Live with Marc Lamont Hill; composed promotional material for several Reach Records albums and tours; contributed copy and visual concepts for Chick-fil-A informational videos and online advertising; written informational scripts used by Dell to introduce new programs to their consumers; and created commercial scripts for I-Drive-Smart to appeal to parents and teenagers. And she likes sneakers—a lot.