Irving—The Sneaker Exit trade show was hosted at the Irving Convention Center on Sunday, July 11. Members of the sneaker and streetwear communities attended to buy, sell, and swap everything in the hall.
Over 100 vendor booths were lined with as much merchandise as they could fit. Sneakers were the primary product, but there was a lot of apparel. Sports jerseys, music and concert shirts, Nike and Adidas and Jordan were all well-represented. Custom and vintage items abounded.
Some sellers towed wagons or carts filled with shoeboxes. One shoe satatop each box, letting passersby know the box’s cargo. If you were interested in the shoe, you just stopped the owner. Negotiations began.
It was commonplace for vendor booths to both buy and sell. Since shoe businesses are not manufacturers or direct retailers, virtually the entire market is built on resale. A large number of visitors at Sneaker Exit and events like it simply show up with their own collection. Then, they find some ground to spread out the shoeboxes, displaying everything they have for sale or swap.
Harrison Clottey, founder of The Sneaker Exit, is from Atlanta.
“I came [to Irving] as an exhibitor in 2013, and I always thought that the community had a good mix,” Clottey said. “You know, being on the outskirts of the city, you usually find the true melting pot of the community, where all socioeconomic classes come together, and especially the sneaker community is incredibly diverse. This is our first show in Dallas, and we’ll be back in September. It’s not like we come one time and don’t come back for two years. We truly love to establish every market, and come back three or four times a year.
“These shows provide sneaker enthusiasts an opportunity not only to buy, sell, and trade sneakers, but to network and truly dive deeper into their interest, and learn from other members of the sneaker community, whether that’s vendors or other attendees.Those relationships continue to evolve outside of the Sneaker Exit. If an attendee was to purchase a pair of sneakers today from a vendor, that business will continue to happen over Instagram, over Shopify, whichever platform the vendor chooses to do business. Maybe when the holiday season comes along and attendees are looking for a specific pair of sneakers, they can refer back to a vendor they’ve met in person, they’ve done good business with, and they can also share their sneaker of interest with.
“Most people come looking for a specific pair, and they have a specific pair in mind. They may not be able to find what they’re looking for in retail stores and having a variety of vendors gives them a greater opportunity to find what they want. A lot of apparel, a lot of vintage clothing as well. It used to be more of a niche community, where you have to be truly, deeply involved into sneakers. But now, globally, sneakers are doing really well, across all ages, in all race groups as well, which is why we have the great diversity. It’s great, because it keeps out the gatekeeper culture. It’s welcoming to anyone who’s willing to be a part of it. I think everyone’s thriving, so I think just anyone can appreciate an event like this.”
“It’s definitely really popping out here, and they have a lot to bring to the sneaker culture,” Tim Wynn, vendor coordinator for The Sneaker Exit, said. “It’s really diverse down here. The vibe is awesome.
“People coming say, ‘I can make money and have a good time at the same time.’ You can’t beat that.This is atmosphere built like none other. You don’t get this atmosphere [all the time].It takes a certain brand of people to put on a show like this. This is better than going to an amusement park for me.
“The negotiation here gives me a rush. Eighty percent of the time, the person you try to buy a shoe from, they’regoing towant to negotiate the price to make a better deal from the sales. That’s the difference from this and going to a store; most stores aren’t going to negotiate with you. Going to a sneaker show, you’re going to have a chance to catch a deal. That’s where you build your relationshipwith somebody.”
“Whenever new customers find out about your page, they usually buy from you over and over again,” Justin Matta of 214 Krispy Kickz, a local online-based seller, said.“At events like this, you can see the shoes in hand, you don’t have to wait for shipping, and the shoes are more authentic.”
“It’s really great that we can all come together and be in one spot, where you can find whatever you’re looking for,” Jaxson Duggar, owner of local-based Texas Steals, said.“It’s a really good culture to be around the people.
“I used to do shoes, and I switched over to vintage, and I love it. It’s amazing finding stuff from the ‘80s and ‘90s. You just never thought you would see this stuff.”
“I like being able to sell and buy, and seeing things that I wouldn’t get to see in person,” Jacob Kirchhofer said.
“I like that fact that I can see things that I never thought I’d get to hold in my hands,” Jameson Gibbons,Jacob’s business partner, said. “I get to buy for my personal collection, and sell to make money.”
Jordan Guthrie and Key Wheatley, Dallas County natives, recently started KJ Stocked, and were at the event with all sorts of shoes and accessories.
“I love the shoes,” Guthrie said.“The details of the shoes, the shoes themselves.”
“Honestly, I got into this because of just the community, the people, things like that,” Wheatley said. “You interact with different people, learning different things as you go.”
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