'Sneakerheads' Wait Long Hours, Pay Big Bucks For Rare Kicks

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"Sneakerheads" have been in line outside a Cambridge shoe store for days, hoping to get one of the 300 pairs of "Blue Lobster" sneakers going on sale Saturday. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)
"Sneakerheads" have been in line outside a Cambridge shoe store since Tuesday, hoping to get one of the 300 pairs of "Blue Lobster" sneakers going on sale Saturday. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)

The line starts outside Concepts, a sneaker boutique off Harvard Square, and winds around the block. Toward the end, Nick Ferdo from Brockton waits under an umbrella, spitting chew into an empty Vitamin Water bottle. A self-proclaimed "sneakerhead," he says he felt like he had to pay his dues.

"Oh man, I’ve been out here in the rain, I didn’t sleep last night," he says. "I’m going to wear them every day."

"Them" is a pair of Blue Lobster Nike SB Dunk Lows. For $250 bucks. Ferdo is one of about 100 people who have been waiting in Cambridge since Tuesday – in the rain – for a new pair of the shoes that go on sale Saturday morning. Concepts partnered with Nike to design and market the sneakers on Web sites like

Three hundred pairs will go on sale here. That’s it. Ferdo is going to strut out with one of them. That’s the limit. "The exclusiveness," he says. "People break their necks looking at you walking down the street."

This is the only place in the country to get the sneakers. It’s why Julian Hopkins and his two cousins say they drove all the way from Ohio. His Cleveland Indians cap cocked to the side, Hopkins, who goes by Juju, is still deciding whether to list his shoes on eBay.

"You can make up to a stack, a thousand, you can make up to a thousand online," he says.

Or, just keep the pair.

"I like ‘em. They look nice. I like shoes," Hopkins says. "You know what I’m saying? Girls like to see guys in nice shoes, so it’s a plus, too."

Would you pay $250 for these shoes? (Courtesy of Nike)
Would you pay $250 for these shoes? (Courtesy of Nike)

Up further, third in line right outside the store, is Chris Sam from Lowell, drinking an energy drink. He’s here to make a profit, as much as he’d like to keep the sneakers.

"I kinda want to get a second pair, but I have to find somebody who’s willing to sit out here with me," Sam says. "Probably pay him a hundred bucks to sit with me. I mean if I can do that, I’ll get me a second pair to keep."

Erin Riley works in the store, and answers the phone every few minutes to people from around the country, asking about the shoes. "These sneaker kids are crazy," she laughs. "I mean look at them. Who else would do this?"

The store manager is Frank Rivera -- he goes by Frank the Butcher. And he and retail manager Deon Point say the old law of supply and demand holds strong during a downturn.

"If we were just to put this on the shelf, the recession could just eat away at that. People are hard to spend right now, the economy's kinda tough," Rivera says. "But the way we present it — market it virally — it makes it easier for us to sell something like this. These kids will kinda put away and tough it out and kinda get their money together for this release."

"If they can afford to stay out there for three days," Deon Point adds, "without working or calling into a job, I’m sure they can shell out the money we’re asking for retail."

When the shoes go on sale at 11 a.m., the store will take in five people at a time. The first 200 get a specially designed skateboard to go with. If you’re No. 201, you just get shoes. If you’re No. 301, you don’t get any. Well, for a month. Because that’s when a bunch more go on sale, and there won’t be a line.

This program aired on June 19, 2009.

Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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