Sick of being left out when the best shoe releases drop? Here’s how to get yours.
Securing those limited edition sneakers you’ve had your eye on for months can be tough, even if you live in New York City or Los Angeles, where shoe stores occupy almost every corner. But when you’re an athlete living in someplace like Erie, Pa., or Peoria, Ill., cities that lack any semblance of a sneaker boutique, capturing that pair of awesome kicks can be next to impossible. Freaked out yet? Don’t be. We spoke with a few prominent sneaker bloggers to give you a few tips on how to cop those hard-to-get sneakers no matter where you live.
Build Relationships with Stores and People
“Forge relationships, both online and off. You don’t have to be the big baller who comes through offering double what retail is three days before the new J’s release. Most store workers don’t like that guy anyway. Instead, be cool. Let the store employees know you’re actually interested in shoes and all the things that surround them—from sports to music and beyond—by engaging them in conversation when you stop through.
“And don’t just show up on days when there’s a big release. Go through and buy a pair of kicks from the sales rack on a random Tuesday. Yeah, maybe they did cost you $10 more than what you could’ve paid on eBay, but you wouldn’t get the instant gratification of walking out with a new pair in hand, and that 10 extra bucks you spent will maybe buy you some goodwill down the line.” —John Gotty, founder and editor of The Smoking Section
“When I played on the [basketball] team at Texas State, I had people on my team from Maryland, from New York, from Oregon, and we just kind of maintained relationships over that time. I definitely think using your friends in different parts of the nation can help a lot. Maybe getting together with a small group of people that you haven’t met in person but you’ve met online and maybe you guys can help each other. Say you go to an outlet in Saint Marcos, Texas and see something, maybe one of your friends in New York wants. Setting up a network of people who can help you in certain times of need for shoes is important.” —George Kiel III, associate editor at Nice Kicks
“Make friends, especially with cats who wear the same size as you, and show goodwill. A tough-to-get shoe doesn’t release in your area, but a friend in a bigger city who has access to them can pick them up for you with no crazy mark-up like resellers. And how do you pay him back? Easy. There’s a style sitting on the sales rack in your area, but they’ve been long sold out around his way—or you run across a steal. There’s your chance to reciprocate.” —Gotty
Check the Outlets
“I’ve always said that outlets are the main place where you can find some of that vintage or exclusive stuff that people have passed on. I’ll walk in and see a pair of like, Kobe V’s that people kind of passed on. I think it was all the blue pair, the ‘Miles Davis’ ones. That was a pair that was popular at the time. Even some Jordans. The beauty of outlets is there are shoes that just all of the sudden pop up there. They don’t give you a release date, you just go and they’re there. That’s the beauty of finding shoes like that, that are exclusive and super rare.” —Kiel
“If you miss out on what you want, don’t lose heart. Check to see if any outlet malls are within a reasonable driving distance. Brands often use their factory stores at outlet malls to sell what may get lost in the shuffle, or sneak some gems out to the populace without there being a big fuss. Brands and retailers also restock product silently too, so stay vigilant if you really care about what you want.” —Sandy Dover, contributor to SLAM and CounterKicks
Stay Tuned to Twitter
“A lot of today’s biggest launches are available through the official @NikeStore Twitter account. At 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings (and also at random times to keep people on their toes), the @NikeStore account will tweet out “Available Now” links to their Nike.com buying page for launch products. Make sure you’re following @NikeStore for any Nike or Jordan launches, @adidasHoops and @adidasOriginals for any of their launches, and @ReebokClassics for their great Retro Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal and Shawn Kemp launches. Twitter is the biggest platform where brands announce new releases, and it won’t hurt to also set up ‘mobile alerts’ for your very favorite brand accounts to make sure you don’t miss out when they have new updates. That way, you’ll get a direct text message alert whenever a new shoe becomes available, giving you a better shot at picking up your size.” —Nick DePaula, editor in chief at Sole Collector
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you can have any shoe out there if you just have patience, and you’re constantly on the lookout for it. It may take a few days or a few years. No matter how long it takes, just know you can get whatever you want, so hold your cash until they come through, because a hot, highly coveted shoe to you will most likely remain that way for awhile. Another cool thing about waiting is that it all but eliminates falling victim to hype and suffering buyer’s remorse. It’s better to have that one pair you longed for than a closet full of hype you bought because that was what was hot at the time.” —Gotty
Plan Ahead and Know Your Options
“You’ll definitely want to stay on top of all of the upcoming sneaker release dates by visiting some of the various sneaker blogs and checking their release dates sections. Brands like Nike and Jordan seemingly have different or several different launches each and every weekend, but the dates are always pretty locked in well ahead of time. Make sure you’re on top of planning out your own launch calendar ahead of time. A great one-stop place is always Nike’s very own calendar.” —DePaula
“Know what your options are. If you have physical sneaker stores in close proximity (be it actual or relative), frequent the store and get to know who works there. If you show you’re an interested customer, often the associates and/or managers will tip you off to whats coming, so you can begin to plan a purchase (which helps them, too). If you don’t have good options physically, figure out the boutiques you know that do pre-order purchases and build around what you’re willing to pay, based on their prices. As is typical of today, shops will raise the price based on high demand, and if you have an understanding of the cost, you’ll be empowered to get what you want.” —Dover