Ever wonder what’s going on with the throng of people lined up in front of Kicks shoe store in Larchmont Village?
Known as “sneakerheads,” they camp out—sometimes for as long as a week—in hopes of purchasing limited release athletic shoes. According to Kicks store manager, Sophia, the length of the line depends on the hype. “The rare shoes, or those in a classic color or style that people want, draw the most customers.”
A few community members have complained that the campouts—on average about one per month—make navigating the sidewalk in front of the store at 143 N. Larchmont Blvd. difficult. But a poll of neighboring businesses, including Nicole and Goorin Brothers hat shop, netted only positive responses.
“They’ve always been well-behaved,” the Kicks manager said of the campers. “There haven’t been any incidents.”
According to Ben Seinfeld, field deputy for City Councilman Tom LaBonge, “People are allowed to assemble outside the store, but if they are being disorderly or causing damage, the police can step in.”
Surprisingly, it’s not only teens that wait in line. “Sneakerheads come in all ages,” said Sophia. “People who are younger buy the shoes because they’re cool, and older people buy the retro ones from like 1989 for nostalgic reasons. Some people collect them, some have hundreds and hundreds of pairs they don’t even wear. Some people rock [wear] them, and others resell the shoes for a lot of money because they are so rare.”
Kicks customers are alerted to an upcoming release by e-mail the day before. “But if you’re a sneakerhead, it’s your life, so you know beforehand which store is releasing what,” Sophia says. “People start calling a couple weeks before and begin lining up sometimes a week before the release date.”
Campout rules are posted on the store’s website, and include guidelines such as no holding places for people, no cutting, a one-pair limit per customer as well as “be mindful of your neighbors” and “be respectful.”
“But we really try to stay out of it and let them do their thing,” said Sophia.
Seinfeld encourages anyone who has a problem with the gatherings to bring it to the attention of Kick’s personnel. “I think the best thing is for them to try to work with the store to find a solution.”