Some of the sneakers at The Sole Room are under glass for good reason. To obtain limited-edition shoes, the owners have camped overnight in 16-degree weather, driven as far as New York and entered raffles to have the chance at a purchase.
“A lot of people don’t like that frustration, and that’s where we come in,” said Anthony Oyewo, co-owner of The Sole Room.
“We compare it a lot to the stock market,” said co-owner Rashawn “Reezy” Shaver. “A hot shoe, the longer you keep it, the more it’s going up.”
The Sole Room is a two-year-old business that previously operated online and at sneaker conventions across the country. They buy and sell shoes, take requests for hard-to-find sneakers and sell shoes on consignment. The owners are teaming up with a new business called Sneaker Clinic.
“It’s like a dry cleaners for shoes,” Oyewo said. “Lots of people collect shoes. … You’ve got to keep the shoes perfect and in good shape.”
Services range from $11 for a basic cleaning to $45 for a premium package, which includes deodorizing; lace, insole and lining cleaning; and deep undersole cleaning to remove gum, mud and salt from every indentation.
“It’s all about bringing the movement of sneaker culture to Minneapolis,” said Wintana Melekin, the general manager of Sneaker Clinic. “You can participate in sneaker culture and not lose a pair of shoes to Minnesota weather.”
The co-owners work to stay on top of the industry, researching the dates that stores receive specific shoes. Limited-run shoes that originally retail at $180 can later sell for $1,500 or more, they explained. The shop carries shoes like Yeezy, which is a collaboration between Adidas and Kanye West; the Nike Air Max 97, part of the “Off White” 10-shoe collaboration with designer Virgil Abloh; and Air Jordans that pay homage to the 1991 “Like Mike” Gatorade ads.
“We track down exclusive shoes,” Shaver said. “We try to focus on high-demand shoes that sell out right away.”
The shop also stocks clothing by designers like Cloud 9 Empire, SOLID and $upply.
The rounded ceilings left behind by the former salon were perfect for the business at 3015 Lyndale Ave. S.
“One person said it feels like a shoebox,” Shaver said.
The Sole Room is pursuing a philanthropic project that would use 3D printers to create shoes for distribution in poverty-stricken areas. Shaver said a percentage of each sale goes toward the project.