Sneaker enthusiasts, commonly known to each other as “sneaker heads,” will have the opportunity to buy, sell and trade their wares for the first time in Rockville Centre at The SoleXchange: Long Island at the Best Western Mill River Manor on Feb. 24.
Tyler Davis, 15, of Rockville Centre was instrumental in bringing The SoleXchange (TSXC), a sneakers and apparel trade show, to Rockville Centre. A self-professed sneaker head, Davis has attended a number of TSXC trade shows in Manhattan and believed there was more than enough interest for a local show.
“A lot of kids from Long Island take trips out to the city for these events and it’s usually a whole ordeal,” Davis said. “I knew a lot of these kids would love it if it actually came to them. If this is a success, which it is turning out to be, we’re going to go through Long Island and expand it.”
Davis brought the original idea to Joe Diorio, the owner and founder of TSXC, who said that if Davis could find a venue and a sponsor, they’d bring the show to Long Island.
After receiving many negative responses to the idea of a sneaker convention, Davis finally found a venue at the Best Western’s newly renovated ballroom, which can hold up to 300 people. Davis also found a sponsor in Extra Butter, a sneaker store located at 266 Merrick Road, Rockville Centre.
The response since the event became official has been very strong. Davis said that 20 vendor tables were sold, where the sneakers are displayed, and that two hundred tickets were sold — a complete sellout.
Davis said that these conventions are important for sneaker enthusiasts because when a new line comes out, it’s often impossible to get a pair.
“The lines are too big and they’ve even done overnight campouts,” Davis said. “It got out of hand and they had to take procedures. Nike does it on the Internet now, and so many people are on the websites that they crash.”
The conventions are like flea markets just for sneakers and apparel, Davis explained. The sneaker heads can buy, sell and trade new and used sneakers to enlarge their collections. Davis said that he only had 8 pairs of sneakers, because his feet are still growing, but added that the owner of Extra Butter personally had upwards of 300 pairs of sneakers.
Sneakers have had a huge popularity for a long time, Diorio said, but it has grown even more since the advent of smart phones and social media.
“From my perspective, [the popularity of the sneakers] has been passed down from generation to generation,” Diorio said. “With social media, it’s become even more extreme and accessible. Ten years ago, it was more of a word of mouth thing. Now, social media is a new advertising platform. If I put something out on my company’s Facebook page, it’s gobbled up right away.”
Basketball players and hip-hop artists wear prerelease sneakers that build up anticipation among their fans and further promote the sneakers, Davis said. He added that after the sneakers sell out, they are often resold at much higher prices, sometimes upwards of $1,000 a pair.
“I didn’t know anything about sneakers, and then a friend got me hooked on it and he taught me everything about the culture,” Davis said. “Then I became good friends with the employer and employees at Extra butter and I kept learning more and more.”
When asked which sneaker is his favorite, Davis did not hesitate.
“My favorite sneaker I’ve ever had is the Jordan 11 Concord,” Davis said. “I love the whole design of it. It’s not too crazy and it can go with any outfit.”