From right, Herlindo Moreno, 20, and Abraham Vasquez, 21, are cousins and co-owners of The Come Up Kickz, a Madera store catering to sneaker collectors. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
When you think of collecting as a hobby, the first things that come to mind might be stamps, coins, or baseball cards — not sneakers.
In Madera, two young independent entrepreneurs are causing a stir among local collectors with their first shoe store.
Herlindo Moreno, 20, and Abraham Vasquez, 21, cousins and co-owners of The Come Up Kickz, opened their store at 26063 Ave. 17 in Madera last year after years of selling shoes online.
Both are self-described sneakerheads, or “sneakerheads.” Moreno and Vasquez said the community supported the business.
Sneaker collecting became a culture and an industry in the 1980s with the emergence of Michael Jordan’s “Air Jordan” shoe line and the rap music boom.
Now in the 2020s, sneakerhead culture is all the rage, especially after the rise in popularity of “athleisure” clothing in the fashion world.
According to estimates by American multinational investment bank and financial services firm Cowen & Co., the resale market for sneakers could reach $30 billion worldwide by 2030.
The first step
Moreno and Vasquez started reselling sneakers when they attended Madera South High School. As the sneaker trend began to gain popularity, the cousins began switching shoes full time.
Vasquez’s brother, Jaime, 24, and another cousin also own the store.
“We all loved shoes, we used to trade and sell to get different shoes. When we realized there was more to just wearing shoes – that there is an industry where you can change your shoes and start something big – we all decided it was a good opportunity” , said Moreno.
They started with five pairs of shoes, which led to 10 pairs and then 30 pairs. Eventually they had so many that they couldn’t fit them in the room they were working in and decided to open a display case.
With combined income from selling shoes as well as full-time jobs, the group opened their store in September.
Since opening, they have sold around 1,000 pairs of shoes.
Dipping toes in the hobby
While the hobby of sneaker collecting may have its roots in basketball and hip-hop, it’s more of a fashion trend at this point.
A shoe company such as Nike will release a shoe in limited quantities. Once it sells out, it will stop producing the shoe. Resellers – people who bought them new from a retailer, manufacturer or other collector – then resell the shoes for a profit.
Moreno said dealers offered him shoes they bought 10 years ago as an investment. They were just waiting to resell at the right time.
Due to the popularity of sneaker culture, a rare shoe will be seen as a more valuable fashion accessory, he said.
The most expensive shoes sold in the store were a $1,700 pair of Travis Scott Air Jordan models.
Footprint across the United States
Different states have more supplies of certain shoes than others. Moreno and Vasquez constantly travel to cities like Houston and Chicago to shop for shoes. There are also sneaker conventions.
This gives them the opportunity to network in the industry.
“It’s crucial that we go to these sneaker conventions because you never know who you might run into,” Vasquez said. “Its 50% store owners and 50% buying and reselling. Each state has a different market.
Travel is an integral part of the job.
They even hope to one day sell sneakers overseas if shipping prices stabilize.
Vasquez is currently a student and plans to continue his education. He hopes to become a professional footballer.
The Come Up Kickz is scheduled to host a local sneaker event to help network in the Central Valley. The event, scheduled for June, will not only cater to sneaker stockists, but other local businesses as well.
The company donated football uniforms to a local school in Madera to help give back to a community that supported them.
“We’re trying to bring more attention to the Central Valley communities and we want the sneaker community to be big here,” Moreno said. “We are here too.”