A couple of months back a new Sneaker Freaker member hit the forum boards with a swag of vintage heat ready to sell. While most of us only dream of discovering a treasure trove of OG sneaker heat, Jason White hit the jackpot at a local ‘mom and pops’ store. On the hunt for winter boots, Jason stumbled on a back room chock full of original Nike, Puma, Converse, Kangaroos, Pony, L.A. Gear and more – two thousand pairs to be exact! A normal greedy ass sneaker head would keep this prize find to himself, but Indianapolis-born Smith is here to spread the love and make your vintage fantasies come true. We took some time out to find out more about this epic discovery and give you exclusive contact with the man we dub the Vintage Sneaker Hunter.
Hey Jason, before we get into the treasure, give us a bit of a back-story on who Jason White is and how you became interested in sneaker culture…
I’ve always thought of myself as a creative and unique individual. When I was growing up, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me expensive sneakers like Jordans or the high price Nike Airs so I had to find other ways to make myself stand out. I remember rocking Diadora to elementary school and in middle school. If I wasn’t rocking the cheap ‘shiny shoes’ or suede casuals with the ‘silver toe clip’, I was wearing sneakers my mother found on sale at Kohls, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Value City. It wasn’t until high school that I began really purchasing and rocking some of the hottest sneakers out. I purchased my first pair of Jordans my sophomore year of high school – the Steel Grey X’s and I thought I was the shit for real! Back then people really weren’t wearing khakis with sneakers. I remember being talked about by a lot of people for wearing sneakers with Dockers. But I didn’t care what others thought – I thought the look was fresh so I rocked it with pride. And soon after I noticed a lot of other people starting to do the same. Not saying I started a movement or anything, I’m just saying. So really what drew me into the whole sneaker culture was the fact that I could express myself through what I wore, and to a certain extent, be recognized and respected for it.
What’s the scene like in Indianapolis these days?
Although Indianapolis is my hometown, in the past 10 years I’ve lived in Chicago, New York, and Michigan. Now I reside in Boston and haven’t been back home to Indianapolis enough to really be able to speak on the scene. But my business partner, Gary Patterson, who lives in Indianapolis, says that the scene is up and coming, which is good to hear. I really want to see my hometown grow in a positive, cultural, trendy, and fashionable way. Gary and I both believe strongly in this and are currently working together on a project that will aid in moving Indianapolis in that direction.
Ok, let’s jump straight into it – tell us how you stumbled onto this treasure trove of vintage heat…
It was like a dream. I walked into this Mom and Pops shop looking for a pair of Redwing Boots. While scoping the selection, I noticed that in the kid’s section there were these Dura Max runners from the late ‘80s just sitting there on display, for sale. At this point my mind began to race wondering if these joints had ever been retroed, to which I finally came to the conclusion that they hadn’t. So I point at the Dura Max runners and ask the owner of the shop, "do you have vintage stuff like that in men’s sizes?" and he says back to me, "yeah what is it that you are looking for?" I follow him to the back of his shop and the rest is history.
Oh my god…did your jaw smack the ground or what?!
Really it was total disbelief. You read about this stuff or hear about it from time to time, but never did I think something like this would ever happen to me. I just kept thinking to myself ‘damn, I want to buy all these shoes but I don’t have the money.’
Exactly! How did you decipher which pairs to pick up on the spot, and how much coin did you have to drop?
The owner of the shop was cool about it. I guess he really didn’t want them, but just didn’t know how to get rid of them. So I did a quick run through of the stock and picked out the most sought after pairs like Air Revolutions, Air Trainer SCs, Air Flights, Air Solo Flight 90s, Quantum Forces, Air Strongs, Air Max CB34 just to name a few. My initial purchase consisted of the Air Revolutions, Air Solo Flight 90s, and Quantum Forces to which I paid box price for each pair. The others I had set aside and told the owner I would be back to get them.
Why was the shop sitting on this killer inventory?
The owner is just the kind of guy that never gets rid of stuff. When shit didn’t sell for him back in the day, he said he just held onto it, and kept it as inventory in case someone one day would want it. That same way of thinking year after year has led to the accumulation of all kinds of items. This guy’s stock consists of anything from Cabbage Patch slippers and Strawberry Shortcake Stride Rites to some of the biggest heaters of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s from brands like Nike, Converse, Puma, PONY, Etonic, L.A. Gear, Jox, Pro-Keds, and even Kangaroos! There are also a lot of brands he has from the late ‘70s early ‘80s that I’m sure a lot of us have never heard of. And since he is a family shoe store, he has all this stuff in baby, kid, women, and men sizes. There is something for everyone here.
How hard was it to get him to sell considering he had held onto it for so long – no doubt he knew what he had, right?
This guy knew EXACTLY what he had in that shop, which made it difficult at the beginning to catch any breaks on pricing for the stuff. The first few pairs I bought I paid box price, which I guess isn’t too bad considering the pairs I bought were worth three to four times box price.
Tell us about the Reflecto Mans – they look pretty off chops
When I first saw the Reflecto Mans they really caught my attention. Nike went all out with these shoes. They based the entire shoe on a comic strip. Even the box uses the comic book theme. Nike took the creative idea even further by including a comic book that featured the shoe as the ‘secret weapon’ of choice for the comic book hero. I would say these along with the Converse Casual runners that look exactly like the Nike Cortez from the same era are just two of the gems that really caught my attention out of the pack.
What’s your stance on the wear and tear of vintage? You have a crazy collection of some ill heat, but just how much of it can your rock?
To be honest most vintage items that people come across can’t be worn. Out of the stash I found, due to the models and types of soles used on the shoes in the inventory, I would say about 80% of the pairs are wearable believe it or not. I have a pair of Nike runners and a pair of Converse basketball that I kept for myself and wear consistently. On the other side of that coin is the fact that I am currently keeping a pair of Nike Air Solo Flight 90s that I found, on ice. I definitely will never put those to the streets but I love taking them out the box and just looking at them on occasion (haha). As far as the non-wearable items, I mean, if you have any doubts you need to know what you are getting into before making any vintage purchases. A lot of people purchase retros and stock them, so why not purchase some real history, some OG shit, and stock that? If you ask me it makes way more sense to stock one OG from 1989 than it does to stock five pairs of a 2007 retro.
So where can people reach you if they want to cop a pair? You’re buying and selling for people right?
I’m definitely in the business of trying to find all this vintage heat some happy homes. There’s about 2000 or more pairs of DS vintage here from a lot of different manufacturers as well as a good selection of models. Not to mention as I stated before there are babies, kids, women, and men sizes. I’d love to keep it all for myself but the reality of it is, what am I going to do with over 2000 pairs of shoes?
Thanks SNEAKER FREAKER for helping me get the word out!!!