Teen Opens World’s First Pawn Shop for $15,000 Sneakers

Michael Gartland, New York Post, June 15, 2014

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High-end kicks are becoming the currency of choice in New York, and one 16-year-old is taking advantage of the trend–using his own five-figure stock of 45 mint-condition basketball shoes to open the world’s first sneaker pawn shop.

“Young kids don’t have jewelry. They don’t have cars,” said Troy Reed, dad of young entrepreneur Chase “Sneakers” Reed. “But what they do have is the thousands of dollars worth of sneakers in their house.”

Chase, a 10th-grader at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, still marvels over pictures of the freshest sneaker designs online and waits in line for hours to add to his collection. Only now he and his father are also getting them from fellow “investors” who want quick cash.

They have all sorts of reasons for selling short. One pawned fancy footwear to pay for his brother’s funeral. Two teen girls liquidated their sneakers to pay for prom dresses. Another savvy ­investor flipped a pair of LeBron Crown Jewels and two pairs of Jordans and used the thousands in profit to pay for his move to The Bronx from Brooklyn.

The store’s priciest pawned pairs so far–those Crown Jewels–are commanding $1,400, more than five times the $270 sticker price.

“I don’t look at it like a business. It’s what I do. It’s what I breathe,” said Chase. “It’s an idea that’s right in front of your face. It’s just about bringing the idea to life.”

During school hours, his father and their sneaker-maven pal Rahsaan “Uncle Bless” Capers man the shop at Lenox Avenue and West 120th Street. They’re looking for “high-end sneakers or dead-stock sneakers”–pairs that are no longer being manufactured. If a prospective pawner’s kicks qualify, they give the shoes a whiff, check to see if they’re yellowing and examine the soles for excessive wear.

“After we evaluate it, we’ll give the kid, say, $100 for the sneakers. If he wants them back, he’ll pay the $100, plus $20 for storing the sneakers,” Troy said.

If someone makes an ­offer, the pawner is notified and has the right of first refusal, provided they can pony up the cash. If the sneakers sell for more, the pawner keeps 80 percent of the profit and the rest goes to the store.

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