When Norfolk native and Norview grad Ace Shapiro started flipping high-end sneakers on Craigslist eight years ago, he was only hoping to one day own a Mercedes-Benz.
While he still doesn’t have the Mercedes, today he is the owner of a successful business with two prominent storefronts in Hampton Roads.
Shapiro opened the first location of Sole Food Kicks in Virginia Beach at the Lynnhaven North Shopping Center back in 2014. Now, he’s opened a second location in Norfolk, hoping to expand his customer base.
The cleverly named shop is where “sneakerheads” can find the latest drops in names like Adidas Originals Yeezys or Nike Foamposites, brand new or at affordable, preowned prices.
Shoe fanatics can buy sneakers, sell their gently used sneakers to the store or trade them in for another pair, depending on the value of the used sneaker. Clothes from luxury to locally-owned brands can also be found inside the stores.
“When you go to a thrift store, you kind of have to sort through 20 racks to find two good items. We’ve already done that for you,” said Shapiro.
While a “sneakerhead” is typically someone who has been collecting sneakers for several years, Shapiro still has a recommended sneaker for beginners looking to up their shoe game: Red and black Air Jordan 1s.
“It’s probably the most casual, not flashy, yet stand-out, comfortable sneaker there is,” Shapiro said.
It’s also one of the most iconic in the world of sneakers. Basketball player Michael Jordan is rumored to have worn the style, nicknamed ‘Breds’, during his NBA games in 1984 before they were allegedly banned, according to Complex magazine.
While there is some inconsistency in the shoe style’s history, it is still one of the most popular sneakers of all time — and one of Shapiro’s personal favorites.
It was a tailored, inspiration cocktail made up of Shapiro’s father, Michael Jordan and the release of the Nike Air Jordan Concords that spiked Shapiro’s passion for sneaker fashion towards a full time career.
Shapiro went from selling sneakers from the trunk of his car, to prime real estate on Granby Street in Downtown Norfolk without any type of formal business education.
“I had a garage and a trunk full of shoes and I would just drive around daily, off Craigslist selling them. And it just turned into ‘let’s do something with this’ instead of having them in your garage,” said Shapiro.
Social media and word-of-mouth between military customers gave Shapiro a boost. He grew from his garage to a grand opening in Virginia Beach and now, a grand opening in his home city of Norfolk on Saturday, July 28.
In addition to giveaways and special merchandise, the new store’s grand opening event featured “Meet and Greets” with celebrities in the YouTube sneaker community, Christian Bright and Tony D. The two social media personalities have over 1 million subscribers on YouTube and nearly 300,000 followers on Instagram combined.
If you missed the grand opening, the Norfolk store’s regular hours will be noon to 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.
And as for the stores’ name, Shapiro says “I really don’t have an answer for that, it kind of just came to my head.”