State of the Community Address
Community: “A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
Most of you reading this, including myself, are the “I” generation. iMac, iPod, iPhone, you name it, it’s all about “I”. Unfortunately, this simple little noun has snuck its way well past the products we buy. It has become ingrained in us. For the most part the “I” goes unnoticed in everyday life, an unconscious thought process that no one actually takes note of. It is this instinctual thought process that makes you believe that everyone is staring at the “giant” scuff you just got on the white midsole of your fresh-out-the-box turtle dove Yeezy 350’s. When in all actuality no one sees it, or even more so, cares. This idea of “I” is nothing new. Researchers have dubbed it the “Spotlight effect”. Go ahead, I’ll give you time to google it... Find it? Cool.
I know I know, “Mitch stop with the boring research and mushy stuff and talk about shoes”, alright fine. This infatuation with sneakers has more than likely lead you to a small group in which you can safely discuss your unconditional love for having the latest kicks. This group, coined by many as the “sneaker community”, offers us a sanctuary in which we are allowed and, at times, applauded for talking about the irresponsible amount of money we spend on any given Saturday. Along with being able to gossip about shoes like an 8th grade school girl, being a part of this “community” grants you access to the knowledge everyone has compiled and a place to share it through mediums like NikeTalk (Yes, this was once the only option), Twitter, and Reddit. Resellers, like myself, have found this information invaluable, and easily the most important part of being immersed in the culture. Originally, the platforms named above were a fertile soil, in which, information as to where to grab your next exclusive pair was plentiful. Chances are if the information was not already out there, you could ask someone and they would be more than happy to help you out. THIS is what the sneaker community was built on.
Looking through these platforms now all you will find is a dried up, empty plot of land consisting of trolls, jealously, and the guy posting a picture of the 60 pairs he “copped” this weekend. I know what you’re thinking, “Ok well if you found the guy that was able to buy all those pairs, just ask him how/where he got them so you know for next time”. What a great idea! Sadly enough that is not the reality of the situation anymore. As more and more people find out how lucrative the business of reselling sneakers is, the competition gets stronger by the day. This essentially means there are less pairs to go around, leading to the current state of our “community”. In an attempt to keep inventory numbers up the people that were once willing to help you grab your kicks or give you a lead as to how to get them, are more secretive than ever. If someone even tweets the link to a “low-key” website that has the new NMD’s in stock, it is met by a chorus of people demanding sender delete the tweet.
The unwillingness to help has the potential to not only divide us, but be detrimental to the growth of the sneaker community. Years ago when I began to get into sneakers, I combed through NikeTalk, Twitter, and the comments on sneaker blogs in order to find out where I could buy my first pair of Jordan’s as they were always sold out every time I went to the store. It was the information within these resources that enabled me to get the shoes I wanted and fueled my passion for sneakers. I’m worried that if someone were to do what I did today, they would be deterred by the frustration searching for information causes and the selfishness currently taking place in the culture. Getting a seat at the proverbial cool kids table that is the sneaker culture is already hard enough with the “old head” vs “new head” battle, and this new added selfishness makes the barrier that much bigger.
Do I expect you to give away every website you have for an upcoming release? No. Is this an anti-reseller piece and telling you to sell everything at retail? No. This is bigger than that. I want this space to get back to the place it was before this selfishness took over. it’s showing a younger kid the ropes, supporting those that support you, or simply spreading some positivity in what seems a darkening section of the internet. As I get older I realized the shoes become less important, and the people I meet through shoes become more important. It’s the desire to share this comradery that inspires me to write this today.
In the spirit of rebuilding this community, one of our own needs our help.
I was able to meet sneaker-industry veteran Nick Engvall at a Sneaker Con event in Cleveland, where he was helping spread the word about a little site you may have heard of called StockX. We had never spoke before but as the day progressed we had multiple exchanges, one that echoes in my head to this day. “I don’t remember what shoes I wore that day, but I will never forget the people”. At it’s simplest form this may not sound like much, however for me, it put things in perspective.
Nick recently got the news that we all hope we never have to hear… His mother, Colleen Lewin, had been diagnosed with uterine cancer. Due to her pre-existing condition of Lupus, health insurance agencies will not take her on as a client. If you would like to read more, you can do so here, Nick will be able to tell the story better than I ever will be able to. Nick is one of the pioneers of the digital community we all find ourselves a part of, and now it’s time for us help him and his mother.
In an attempt to do my part, I will be donating 10% of my sales to Nick and his mother throughout the rest of September. If you would like help as well you can donate directly here, or via the page on my website here. I think I speak for myself and Nick when I say thank you, sincerely, for even the consideration of helping. I have received news that once Nick’s mom beats cancer, she will be sending everyone that donated her famous lemon bars. That on its own seems worth it if you ask me.