Sneaker resellers use the internet to grow presence at Towne West
The rise of online shopping has caused many local business owners to downsize or eliminate their brick-and-mortar presence.
One Wichita high-end sneaker business demonstrates that doesn’t always have to be the case.
It’s no secret that Towne West Square is not as lively as it once was.
Take a walk inside, and you’ll soon realize there are almost as many empty storefronts as there are active ones.
But tucked in the far corner of the mall, you’ll find Knockout Sneaker Boutique — a sneaker resale store that found its initial success online as opposed to foot traffic.
Cade McGaugh, 20, opened the store last year with his two friends, Ernesto Hernandez and Michael Reyes. They specialize in retro and hard-to-find sneakers that range in price from about $200 to more than $1,000.
In less than nine months, the store grew so much it had to relocate to another space in the mall almost three times larger.
“The first-ever retro that I got was a Carmine 6 in 2014 with my dad,” McGaugh said. “That was like the first shoe I ever really made money off of that was brand new.
“And I saw that you could make money, so I just kept doing it and doing it. I’ve probably been doing it for about 10 years now.”
McGaugh said he often looks to athletes, rappers and other celebrities to get an idea of what sneakerheads will want next.
One might expect McGaugh and his business partners to be big sneakerheads, too. But McGaugh said he’s already sold off most of his personal collection.
These days, he said he and his co-owners keep it pretty simple.
“I get up to 50, 60 pairs and then I sell them off because I wear the same thing every day,” McGaugh said. “We all wear running shoes, surprisingly.”
C.R. Curless is another local reseller who might better fit the bill of a typical sneakerhead. He said his parents gave him a pair of LeBron 10s for his eighth-grade graduation.
“I looked online, and those same shoes … they were able … to profit, I think it was $30 or $40 – not much at the time,” Curless said. “But I saw the opportunity.”
Ever since then, he’s been building up his personal collection while reselling shoes through his own business. He also sells vintage clothes at Knockout Sneaker Boutique.
Curless’s favorite shoes in his collection are the Yeezy Waverunner 700s, a highly limited pair by Kanye West that go for up to $400. He said he felt lucky to get on them.
“Whenever they dropped, I was on the site on about three devices – two phones and one computer,” Curless said.
McGaugh and Curless both rely heavily on the internet and social media to help connect with clientele. And they’re not alone.
Scroll through Facebook Marketplace or Instagram and you’ll find there’s no shortage of other resellers in the area – selling shoes, clothes and just about anything else.
For those looking to take part in the $2 billion sneaker resale industry, McGaugh has a few tips.
The most important thing, he said, is knowing how to spot a fake.
“There’s … in-sole stitching that you can check. There’s a blacklight test that you can go over the shoe and then check that,” McGaugh said. “The smell. The smell is really distinct, [so] you can tell.”
Aside from making sure your product is legit, McGaugh said success in reselling ultimately comes down to how much time and effort you’re willing to put into it.
“It’s not always going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be instant,” he said. “So really, just like, hard work is probably the most important thing.”