As the year came to an end recently, some surprising news came from Hikmet Sugoer, the founder of Solebox. Hikmet announced that he was leaving the company. It may come as a surprise, but after the purchase of Solebox by Snipes a couple of years ago, it makes sense. When you’ve built a successful business and decide to sell to another company or give up control for the sake of investment, oftentimes it can result in frustration and disagreements.
It’s clear that Hikmet was one of the most successful boutique owners over the last decade. Solebox had a number of popular collaborations over the years and as much as we’d like to see their success continue, it’s not likely.
If you recall, the former boutique Crooked Tongues went through a similar situation just a couple of years ago. CT was acquired by ASOS and within a couple of years, CT had lost its momentum and was eventually shut down. It’s a good bet that Solebox is going through similar headaches as Gary Warnett did when he described the downfall of Crooked Tongues. Of course, big business will do what big business does.
While it remains to be seen whether these two popular boutiques will end with the same result, it got us thinking about the sneaker stores that have come and gone over the years.
Check out Fallen Heroes: 20 Sneaker Stores That Are No Longer In Business.
Rock Paper Scissors (RPS)
For a hot second Seattle’s Rock Paper Scissors was one of the most poppin’ retailers on the Internets. A small boutique with a good selection of sneakers and fitteds made RPS a staple while in business.
Most people may not realize the creativity behind the company’s name. Rock represented the hard goods sold in-store, Paper represented the art, which was regularly featured within the store, and Scissors represented the RPS line of clothing and hats. Yet, even with the plug at Complex, RPS shuttered in 2013. Nowadays, sneaker enthusiasts can shop at the recently opened Bait store in the same neighborhood.
Locations: New York City, San Francisco, Berlin
Legendary artists Futura and Stash both tried their hands in the retail game for a time. While both started off on their own endeavors separately — with Stash with Nort in NYC and Berlin, and Futura with Recon and Subware in NYC — in 2005 they combined forces and opened near Supreme in NYC. They eventually opened a second location in San Francisco, the now home of The Darkside Initiative. Despite the popularity of Stash and Futura, both of whom have a significant track record of creating dope sneakers, Nort/Recon just wasn’t meant to be. A flood got the best of their downtown Manhattan location in the winter of 2009 and after moving to Brooklyn, the end was near for both Nort/Recon locations.
Opened in 2003, Goodfoot expanded to a handful of locations in Toronto and in Vancouver before eventually shutting down in 2010. Over the course of its seven years in business, Goodfoot became one of Canada’s go-to sneaker boutiques. Of course, Goodfoot was just a piece of a bigger conglomerate of stores run by Matt George that included Ransom, Nomad, Stussy Vancouver and more. Which is why George was ranked as one of the most influential people in streetwear.
Goods opened up shop in 2003 on world-famous Pike Street in Seattle. Goods carried streetwear, sneakers and skate goods, making them one of the few one-stop-shops in town, and most definitely the best location in town. Like many other stores on this list, Goods closed its doors just before it was able to celebrate 10 years in business. Sounds like a conspiracy. Maybe someone should look into that.
Locations: New York City
According to Complex, Clientele was started by Dan Jebbia, brother of Supreme co-founder James Jebbia. Unfortunately, Clientele only lasted about five years before closing down, despite being just down the block from Supreme and in the old X-Large space. One would think that being in an area known for streetwear and sneakers would make it easy to survive but it just goes to show how challenging it is to succeed in the retail boutique world. But if you’re itching for a way to remember Clientele, it looks like you can still order lace locks on their site.
Back in 2009, Patta founders Malvin Wix, Gee Schmidt, and Edson Sabajao took a chance on a bold new idea called Precinct 5 to celebrate their fifth year in business. The story is better told by Malvin Wix, so check out the video below and pour some out for one of the craziest ideas the sneaker world has ever seen. Too bad it didn’t turn out the way everyone hoped.
Location: New York City
Hip hop and sneaker legend Bobbito Garcia once had a small store on the Lower East Side in NYC. Although it was only open for about four years, with Bobbito connected to it, you know it had the attention of the true enthusiasts. In it’s short time in business, Bobbito was able to make a huge impact on the NYC sneaker scene, even to the top 50 sneaker stores of all time, according to Complex. At least we’ll always have the stories to remember it by.
Location: New York City
If you’re not aware, a lot of boutiques today have had a little help to get them going. Concepts in Boston was once just in a corner of The Tannery. Kith in NYC began thanks to a partnership with Atrium. Of course, both have seemingly outgrown their mentors when it comes to the sneaker business. According to Russ Bengtson and Robert Facey, NYC’s Broadway Sneakers “set up shop as a convenience store that sold roach motels” in 1984 and eventually began selling all white adidas Superstars (as well as colored markers for you creative types — no, seriously!). Eventually, Broadway Sneakers had a handful of spinoff stores called Training Camp, which should at least be a hint of familiar to most sneaker enthusiasts.
Location: San Francisco
Harput’s was a staple for 30 years in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, an area that was commonly known as the “Harlem of the West.” As the story goes, Turk Harput opened the country’s first adidas store in Oakland after trading his Volvo for 1,000 pairs of discontinued adidas. Four years later he moved across The Bay to the Fillmore District. The store operated there until 2009, as one of those places most collector’s dream of coming across. Although the store is no longer, the Harput’s family has spawned a number of other businesses along the way including a store in Portland, which is no defunct and a clothing line that exists today.
Location: New York City
New York City has always paved the way when it comes to sneaker culture. Although it existed other places, the people, stories, and legends all come from NYC. Jew Man’s is all of that wrapped into one. Started by Teddy Held, Jew Man’s was located in South Bronx and according to stories, one of the only places you could get Air Force 1s in the late 1980s. In regards to the name Jew Man’s, Teddy said, “That’s kind of derogatory today, but you came and you could bargain. You wanted a pair of $30 dollar sneakers? You came and gave me $28 or $27, and I let it go.” Teddy Held also launched the brand Troop with his brother Harvey and partner William Kim — HighSnob did a fascinating interview with him for their relaunch.
Location: Los Angeles
Kendo is one of those stores you won’t see mentioned by most sneaker blogs. It’s not because the store wasn’t dope. And it’s not because their sneaker selection was weak. You won’t see Kendo mentioned because it was a sneaker boutique focused on women’s sneakers. Kendo began back in 2003, which might be the reason they went out of business despite their Fairfax/Melrose location. They were ahead of their time. As crazy as it sounds, women’s sneakers have always been a part of other women’s shoe stores. The brands like Nike, adidas, and Under Armour talk about focusing on the female sneaker consumer but that wasn’t until Lululemon stole most of their “athleisure” apparel sales. Even though Kendo had a great idea, the rest of the footwear business wasn’t quite ready for it. It’s a safe bet we see a dedicated women’s sneaker store pop up in the near future. It’s long overdue.
According to YouTube, Abakus Takeout is the best store in Philly (as of February 4, 2013). Unfortunately, Abakus closed down just a few months later after five years in business in Philly’s Chinatown. The concept of the store, as you might expect, was themed on takeout and featured sneakers hanging in the windows much like you would see meat hanging in a Chinese take out spot. Even the best theme for your sneaker store isn’t a bulletproof plan for staying in business.
Motive807 was one of the only boutiques in Austin, Texas back in the first decade of the 2000’s. With the University of Texas students just a short walk away, you would think a store voted as “Best of Austin” would have some staying power. However, with Nice Kicks moving into the retail world, Motive closed a short time later.
Adikt Footwear in Dallas only lasted a few short years before shutting down in 2011. The shop carried pretty much all the necessary sneaker brands and had some good exposure, and eventually became one of the spots to hit in Dallas. Just ask DJ Mr Rogers. Rest in peace, Maggie.
Location: New York City
Like Broadway Sneakers, Training Camp closed down back in 2010. Udi Avshalom, stepped away from the family business (Broadway Sneakers) to start his own in 1997. The handful of Training Camp locations in New York City distinguished the shop from other sneaker stores by offering a more wholistic approach to style. Meaning, you could look fresh from head to toe, compared to the Athlete’s Foot and Foot Locker stores nearby that lacked the fresh apparel. Like most of the fashion from the early 2000s, Training Camp fell at the feet of the trend gawds and never made the leap into the 2010s.
No6 in London was a unique adidas concept store. Considering how rare it was to see a line like the one pictured above at an adidas store before Yeezys and Ultra Boosts, it’s a surprise that No6 didn’t last. Although, their last post back on the site in 2014 says they will return, a quick glance at Google Maps shows an empty and available retail space. You can, however, still support the store that spawned No6, which is No74 in Berlin.
Soul II Sole
According to this post on Sneaker Freaker, Soul II Sole posted: “We carry Nike, New Era, adidas, NB, Reebok and Alife collabos. We also support the entire sneaker culture and other cultures that come along with this lifestyle. A lot of stores don’t care about you or your concerns, just your money. We are also very hip hop orientated.” Reading that seems like a lot of negativity and frustration with the “game,” so hopefully the owners have moved on to bigger and better things.
Rare Breed Footwear
Location: New Jersey
Rare Breed Footwear provided sneakers to Red Bank, New Jersey sneakerheads for a number of years before hanging it up in 2014. But the legacy of Rare Breed is carried on by co-founder DJ Senatore, who own’s one of the largest Reebok Pump collections in the world. So like most of the fallen sneaker stores, the passion for kicks finds new ways to carry on.
15 years in business is not something that comes easy. As you can see from the other stores on this list that lasted only a handful of years, Crooked Tongues had something special. The CT forums became the European version of NikeTalk and InStyleShoes all wrapped into one message board. This facilitated the connecting of sneaker enthusiasts from around the EU to meet in person, forming friendships that long outlasted the business.
The story of Crooked Tongues is best told by Gary Warnett, one of the aforementioned enthusiasts who was involved from CT’s earliest days. But as mentioned before, CT’s eventual demise came after they were acquired by ASOS and seemingly dismantled piece by piece, in favor of the typical big business jargon of “streamlining” and “efficiency.” As consumers, we all know that means making the experience less personal and drives the passionate enthusiasts away from the business. But at least we have plenty of Crooked Tongues collaborations to reminisce with.
Locations: San Francisco, Los Angeles
HUF closed its San Francisco store in early 2011 after nearly 10 years as the go-to sneaker spot in San Francisco. Then “unexpectedly” they lost their lease at their Fairfax location in Los Angeles a couple of months later. Although the company has remained popular as a brand being sold at mall stores like Zumiez, the general feeling amongst San Franciscans was lots of disappointment. Clearly the decision to not have flagship stores of any kind is a tough one for a shop owner like Keith Hufnagel, especially when most shop owners never envision much beyond the first or second location. And when it comes to their locations, retailers like Bait, The Hundreds and others have filled in the missing void as best as possible.
Do you have a favorite sneaker store that’s no longer in business? Let us know in the comments so we can help tell their stories in the future.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, and StockX better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.