Shoes were never part of the original plan at Swell-o-Phonic. After we took over the former Backstreet Skate and became Swell Skate Co. we thought why not – lots of people wear shoes – even in Mississippi. The Globe Shoe brand was the only line to approve us at first since we were so new, kinda stupid and relatively unproven. After Globe started to sell we eventually gained enough street cred to carry Etnies, ES, Emerica, Lakai, Osiris and others.
*Photo by CW Photography
The tough thing about shoes is that they can take up a lot of floor space – that's literally almost 9 square feet per style if you stack them. Our small store was soon bustling with boxes as you mazed your way through the retail area and even all around the screen print presses in the back.
One concern with carrying shoes will always be a bit of shoe lifting (theft). Empty boxes just ain’t cool no matter how well you are doing. We've seen empty boxes, stolen boxes, boxes with gnarly old shoes left in them, etc. Sneakers are apparently that much of a fanatical thing that people will do any number of crazy antics to get out with a pair. We even dealt with a fool one time that wanted to steal these particular shoes so bad that he ran in, grabbed them and pushed our sales girl out of the way to get out the damn door. I got into my little low-bumpered, old BMW 2002 and eventually caught up with this guy and escorted him into someone's front yard via said bumper and recovered our shoes.
In our next era as shoe dealers we expanded with our second location. We had become a Supra dealer until they became a mall shoe, but then dumped them lightning fast because we have always tried to stay exclusive! We then spent 9 months getting hazed by Nike before getting SB's. Luckily we were already a board and wheels shop for the mimimum 5 years to be considered. After being called sell-outs, we persisted because we saw the vision with a new wave of dedicated collectors of shoe art. We had to accept whatever shoes they sent us for a year before we could prebook our own desired styles.
Year 2 with Nike SB was when we elevated from a store that sold shoes to an actual sneaker boutique – there's a very distinct difference. We were now an exclusive dealer (and still are to this day) and began selling Nike SB Quickstrikes. Quickstrikes are shoes that basically just popped in unannounced with plenty of street hype and lines at the door. When the "Mork & Mindy" Dunks dropped we had 8 dudes drive over from Birmingham and wore all of them out the door. The days of shoes lasting 3 minutes in the store were upon us.
*"Mork & Mindy" photo via flightclub.com
Then in 2014, the Nike SB Tiffany Dunk Highs hit the store with mega hype. We had 40+ needy souls needing soles – camping out all night for just 14 pairs of shoes. We ended up having to open up at 6 am to avoid a literal riot and had to have 3 cops manage the moment. In minutes they were gone. We let the other 26+ that didn't get so lucky have 40% off any other shoe in the house because we always take care of the addicted.
*Zero in a pair of Tiffany Dunks
We can easily say now that being shoe dealers (not shoe sellers) was one of our best strategies ever. We now carry New Balance Numerics, Adidas Skateboarding Van's, Converse Cons, Lakai, a few Clarks, and of course Nike SB – all of which can be found on www.chane.com. The strategy to carry these brands and divisions set us apart from all the poser stores who come and go. We have exclusive relationships with many of these brands and in the Jackson area you will only see them here.
*Photo by CW Photography