The Story of ReUp Sneakers as Told By "Nike" Nate
"Everybody has a story to tell."
'Nike Nate' is a name that many in the sneaker community recognize. To many, Nate is 'that one guy" who made the insanely popular custom hang-tags for our favorite shoes and backpacks. Another group sees Nate as the driving force behind ReUp Sneakers, one of the breakout stars of the ever-growing community of consignment shops on the East Coast. Either way, one thing is for sure - when it comes to kicks, Nate ain't new to this.
Much like sneakers, when it comes to people - stories are IMPORTANT; which is why I decided to sit down with Nike Nate and let him tell his. This is the story of one sneaker-kid with a dream, who took an idea and his resources and led the charge - from beginning to end. A kid who just wanted a few more Instagram followers and ended up changing the game. This is Nike Nate as you've never seen before. This is #AReasonableConversation #ForCreativeSouls.
Dela: Before we really dive into this, let me just ask, for those who may not know: Who is Nate?
Nate is a dude that's always been into sneakers.
Married with three kids.
Just your regular, average, run of the mill dude who was working a 9 to 5....that had the opportunity come up to open their own sneaker store - which I feel like a lot of people in the sneaker community wish they could do. I used to work part time at Champs just to fulfill that itch to be around sneakers, since I was ALSO working full-time. Now to have a store selling YEEZYS and shoes of that nature compared to - no disrespect - but shoes like Jordan True Flights or shoes of that nature...is much more exciting.
A lot of people in the sneaker community know you as “The guy who makes the hang-tags.” Or, at least used to make them. Do you still make them?
Yea, I do. It's just more low-key these days. Obviously, the orders aren't coming in the way they did before. I believe every fad has an expiration. There are people who still look for them and I've made enough of them that people point anybody looking for one towards me. I still definitely take orders, it's just not as big as it was before, but making them definitely help put me in the position I'm in now.
How did you end up making the tags?
It was actually to just get more followers on Instagram. A buddy of mine and I had the same amount of followers. Instagram had just started up not too long before that and I was kind of looking for a way to get myself noticed in the sneaker community. Not to be a major player but to be 'known' in the community.
I feel like most people want to have SOME kind of exposure.
I came up with the idea on a whim after making a t-shirt that said 'Nate' but with the Nike Swoosh. I worked at a sign company, so I had the knowledge and the supplies to make them. I made a couple and showed them off to a buddy of mine and he said it was dope.
So, I reached out to The Perfect Pair, Kicks0l0gy and a couple other big names in the community, showing them samples I made featuring their names and such. I Sent them out for free and they shouted me out, which in turn made my IG explode and orders started flowing in.
I honestly didn't do it for money. I just did it for the exposure and to get my IG followers up. I was honestly blown away by how big it became.
You made mention that the idea came from a t-shirt using the (Nike) Swoosh and your name. How did you get the nickname "Nike" Nate?
That goes back a good bit. A buddy of mine who does all the t-shirts for ReUp, he just kind of started saying it one day like - "Yo, Nike Nate." "Nike Nate, what's up!". That's all I would EVER wear back then was Nikes. So it just happened and I honestly believe that you don't choose your nickname - that it just happens. That story kind of just proves it.
What made you want to launch your own sneaker boutique?
It's always been a dream really.
Across the board, I feel like it's something a lot of people WANT to do but don't have the MEANS or OPPORTUNITY to do. I had the chance and I jumped at it. I took the risk of leaving my full-time job that I was at for 15 years to do it. Also, my kids are older now, so they don't depend on me as much financially.
Small businesses and new businesses, in general, are a risk; especially financially. I feel like the best time to open a store would be either before you have a family, or once that family is really established. My wife was and is still super supportive towards the business. Combine that with the love I have for sneakers why wouldn't I at least go for it?
Do you feel like you would've been able to even get ReUp off the ground without her?
No, no not at all.
If she would've given me a hard time about it or not backed me as strongly as she did and still does, there's no way it would've happened. I owe her a lot of gratitude for the simple fact that she was supportive and she told me to go for it. Once I had her blessing to really pursue it, I really went for it and things really started to move.
Leaving a job of 15 years to go start something of your own that may not be around in six months...that had to be a difficult thing to deal with.
Definitely, but I'd rather try and fail, instead of sitting back wondering if I didn't do it - what would've happened. Worst case scenario: if this doesn't work I'll find another job. I could live with that MUCH easier instead of not trying.
What was that day like; when you went to your boss to let him know that you're quitting to go start your own sneaker store?
Honestly, it kind of worked out perfectly. The guy that I had been working for ending up selling the business right around the time I decided to open the store. I was originally going to hire someone to run the store for me, while I worked my regular job. With my old boss selling the business the new guy came in for a month before we got ReUp open and the new guy and I just bumped heads too often.
Guess you could say it was God's timing?
Yea, the way it worked out I ended up not feeling bad for leaving my boss of 15 years because I was responsible for a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities of how the business was being run. It made it a much easier decision.
What was the biggest challenge in getting Reup to go from being an idea to being an operating brick and mortar store?
Honestly, it wasn't THAT big of a challenge. I reached out to a bunch of people in the sneaker community, which was my game plan originally. I realized we didn't have $100,000 to go buy inventory. Rob (co-owner of Reshoev8nr and partner in ReUp) and I couldn't just put all of our shoes in the store. Nobody is going to shop at a store where the only sizes are a 9 and an 11.
So, I just reached out to people in the community that I'd become friends with and asked, "Do you have one, two, five or more pairs to put on consignment in my store?".
Everybody had at least one pair to give.
Everything from deadstock pairs they never got around to wearing, to slightly worn, to grails to GRs. I know it sounds crazy, but that's how we ended up getting part of our inventory to open.
I'm sure that someone agreeing to give you a pair on consignment versus having you buy them straight out helped you avoid being in a hole to start.
Definitely. We still struggle with that to this day, to be honest. The whole buying straight out versus consignment. As a store, we want to buy straight out because there's a higher profit from it, but also a higher risk. You buy something that you think will sell and it ends up sitting for months on end. Whereas you put something on consignment and it sells in a day or two but you make a lower percentage of it.
From a creative standpoint, did you already have a vision in your head of how you wanted things to look? Kind of how Foot Locker and Champs' have their own unique layout. Or did you just go with what you had to work with?
It was a combination of a few things.
You can't hate on a Foot Locker or a Champs because they've invested so much time and money into the logistics of setting up a store and making it easy for a consumer to shop.
We wanted that same aspect, but the store was a rectangular shaped. Obviously, keep the counter at the back because that makes the customer have to walk through the whole store to check out. Other than that it was making sure both walls were lined with shoes. We couldn't put any shoes in the front window due to the way the sun hit, it would end up fading them.
The game machine in the store; was that an original idea or did you see it in a shop somewhere else?
There's really not much hidden in this world. Urban Necessities kind of put it out there for everybody. They're all the way on the West Coast and I wanted to bring that idea to the East Coast. They're all over the place now but when we first brought it to the city, it was such a huge draw and now people see it and go "Oh you have one too.". We can say we did it in this area first, but does it really matter? I'm sure Urban Necessities saw the key master with iPads at an amusement park or a mall and decided to put shoes in it. I give them all the credit in the world for it though.
It's definitely a draw though. It's a free-play at our store but it's a way to get people in the door. At first, people would come from two hours away to play because we were one of the only ones in the area with it. People just like to win stuff. If a kid can win a pair of Yeezys for $30 off of a few plays then why not? You know the kid's parents aren't going to buy them $600 YEEZYS.
It's like playing the lottery, the reward greatly outweighs the risk.
ReUp wasn't that old before you decided to move locations. You had the original store then opened a few kiosks around the area Before moving to the new store. What made you think “Now is the time to go bigger.”?
Rob and I partnered together with a few other people to open the kiosks in the area. As the lease for the kiosks ran out, the lease for the original store had expired and we were going month to month - so I approached the mall and looked at a few spots. I thought the store we're in now would be too big but after doing the numbers, it worked out. We moved from a 700 sq ft store with a few kiosks around the area to a 2500 sq ft spot for the same cost as the old store and the kiosks. We just needed a better spot overall and the opportunity presented itself.
Back to the business side of things, what goes into determining the price and value of a shoe that's brought in?
We always get asked the question of "What can I get for these shoes?"
It comes down to three main factors: size, condition, and resale.
With the market always changing, those three things are the main factors. You have to look at the trends and what people are buying. If someone comes in with a LeBron, KD, or Kobe these days, we're going to pass on them or the price we pay will be low because they're not that highly sought after right now.
What made you decide to change the name from ReUp Philly to ReUp Sneakers? Was it to avoid putting yourself in a pigeon hole so to speak?
Yea, it was a bit of a mistake on my part at the beginning to include Philly in the name. We do promotions out in Arizona. Reshoevn8r is based out there and with us moving the store to the mall (which is in Jersey), it just made things easier if we changed it. It's one of those 'you live and you learn' type deals.
What do you think makes ReUp different from other boutiques?
Well for one we offer a cleaning service. Think of it like a dry cleaner. You come in and drop off your shoes and we'll clean them for you. When you come back to pick up your shoes, you're likely to actually look around the store and maybe end up buying a pair.
Also, we just believe in our customer service. We're not going to rush you out the store. If you want to talk about the quality of kicks now compared to what they were when you first started - then IM HERE FOR THAT all day. We treat everyone like family. I've heard the stories of other stores treating people like crap. I don't ever want that be the case with us.
What's next for the ReUp brand?
We're working on ways to make the shopping experience more interactive and more of an experience for customers. Working on doing several pop-up shops with different people. The independent clothing brand Johnny Cupcakes is scheduled for one. We want to do stuff to give people a reason to come to the store other than just looking for a pair of shoes. We want to create more of an experience.
One last question: if there's one thing you could say to those who will read this, what would you say?
We're all in this for basically the same thing - the love of sneakers. We're all human. There's no need to talk down on someone because you may have more than them. Why make fun of kids who don't know something about a pair of shoes or an adult who is just getting into sneakers or getting back into them after a while. We all had to start somewhere. Everyone needs guidance and help at some point. I feel like, as a community, we need to help each other more instead of putting each other down.
Also everyone should shop at ReUp Sneakers.