When you're sixteen and entering your junior year of high school, the greatest concern, typically, is getting a license and finding a date to prom, right? Not for Harlem's Chase Reed, who spent his adolescence getting the first ever sneaker pawn shop ready for business.
"The light bulb went off when I started off customizing clothes, customizing my lacrosse sticks and customizing my sneakers," he tells Fuse's Esteban Serrano. "It was just something that I thought: 'You know what? Let me start customizing for other people.'"
"I was reselling shoes to secondary stores," he continues. "I was basically pawning my shoes to my father when I'd have to go out and pay for a lacrosse stick, or go out and eat with my friends, or customize my own clothes. I would have to get money from my father, but he would buy me $400 worth of sneakers every week. I was pawning my sneakers to him, and I would go back and give him the money in like two weeks. How many other sneakerheads in the world would want to pawn their sneakers but want to keep their collections? That's how the first sneaker pawn shop in the world came about."
The shoes in his store include kicks that go back to the early '90s, pre-dating the age of Reed himself. He stays grounded, making sure everyone who enters Sneaker Pawn feels invited. "There's definitely a society here," he says. "We're not only just a sneaker society; we're a neighbor society. Whether you're into sneakers or not, whether you're old or young, you can come here."
Opening the shop was no easy task. "I was probably 15 or 14. I had to make a decision," Reed explains. "I had every sneaker that came out... and then my father was like, 'Nah, I'm not buying you anymore sneakers.' Now I'm buying sneakers on my own. My father gave me the option: 'Do you want to open your own sneaker store? Or would you like to have your own collection and just continue your life?' It took a lot of thinking. Why not sacrifice everything so I can have an amazing sneaker collection when I get older and be successful?"
Watch the exclusive interview above.