RICHMOND, Va. -- Alex Sam and Thomas Vu are proving art is in the eye of the beholder. One thing ties their bond tight. The friends go head over heels for sneakers.
"I think the most I held onto was 400 pair of shoes,” said Thomas. “For me, I would take them home and display them and use them as home decor."
Some designs are a masterpiece.
"These are considered the Holy Grail in the sneaker world,” said 17-year-old Alex. “It’s something no one has. No one has.”
Like a Van Gogh or Vermeer, rare footwear commands top dollar.
“$6,500 for a pair of these Red Octobers,” Alex explained.
Thomas and Alex say the sneaker game is not just a lifestyle. It is serious business.
"People can make a living off selling these shoes," said Thomas.
According to some industry analysts, the sneaker resell business could top $6 billion worldwide in five years.
“We can go from $100 to $10,000 or even higher if it is a rare hard to find shoe,” said Alex.
The entrepreneurs from Henrico are jumping in feet first.
“We have a brand new pair never been worn. Clean. Never touched asphalt. We will be selling them for $5,000,” said Thomas.
Kicks Boomin is their new venture in the heart of VCU.
“Super excited. Dream come true,” said Alex.
Stocking shelves with new and used Air Jordans among others. The bolder the better.
“Once you build a collection, you want to get more and more,” said Thomas.
Their combined personal collections make up most of the store’s inventory.
“I used to buy shoes every week. Use my paycheck. Buy shoes. Buy shoes. Buy shoes,” said Thomas.
Alex says he recognized a business opportunity in middle school.
“Working hard is everything. You can’t get anywhere just sitting down,” he said.
Alex would buy classmates’ used sneakers. Clean and resell them for nearly double.
“I was selling them for $40 to $80 depending on the model or condition it was,” said Alex.
The pair, who just met a few months ago, share a common colorful vision. They want to satisfy the sneaker obsessed willing to shell out big bucks for must haves.
“I’m going all in on this. This is my future. I want to build here,” said Alex.
Their new storefront is opening along a stretch of Broad Street hit hard during last summer’s unrest. Violence that directly affected Thomas’ livelihood.
This is a leap of faith for me,” said Thomas.
The 27-year-old new father worked at Round Two sneaker store for four years before it was looted. The owners of the flagship location decided not to re-open.
“It was heart wrenching. It was my career. It was my path. It was everything I worked for,” said Thomas.
Thomas saw an opportunity at his feet and reached out to Alex.
“I’m not deterred. I believe we can overcome this. 2020 has been quite the year,” said Thomas.
In two months, they mapped out a business plan and signed a lease.
“Unfortunate things happen but as long as you can pivot from that you can make something great out of it,” said Alex.
The pair said their store is a step in the right direction.
“It is a roller coaster but some brands stand the test of time,” said Thomas.
Long term, they see Kicks Boomin’ stores across the country, while making Richmond a destination for fashionable footwear.
“I am super excited. Putting a lot of hard work in here. Can’t wait,” said Alex.
Alex Sam and Thomas Vu are sneakerheads and sometime art dealers committed to success with every fiber of the inner sole.
Kicks Boomin’ will open Saturday, December 12. The store, at 914 West Broad Street, will be open 7 days a week.
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