It’s a little after noon and Atmos store manager John Lee just sold his last pair of exclusive Jordan VI’s. The store’s been open for nearly two hours.
“We don’t have lines around the corner like we used to,” Lee explained.
It is a common story for independent sneaker stores. The rules have changed for a once unshakable market of die-hard shoe collectors.
“If I don’t have money, I can’t buy shoes,” said shopper John Kirby as he checked out a $10 pair of Converse sneakers.
Kirby’s reasoning is something independent sneaker shops are seeing more and more of these days. Purse strings are tightening and onetime shoe fanatics, or sneaker-heads, aren’t buying as much as they used to.
Keenan Williams used to spend as much as $600 a month on new sneakers. Now, he said he’s lucky if he spends a $60.
Lee figures this is why when his store gets a specialty shoes like the Infrared Jordan VI pack, valued at $350, there are still boxes on the shelf well after the store opens. Before the recession, customers would line up around the block in anticipation.
To keep demand up, Lee has made it a point to supply his store with brands that are not as expensive. His other weapon of choice is a good sale.
“I want to cater to my customers and the community I work in,” he said — adding that he hopes his method of lowering costs will keep customers coming back.