A showcase of urban fashion, this New York sneaker store offers shoes that are both rare and mainstream
STATEN ISLAND, NY – For Andrew Rosenthal, sneakers are a form of contemporary art. Calling collector’s shoes an important part of pop culture and a unique aspect of urban fashion, the Great Kills resident uses words like “iconic” and “aesthetically pleasing” to describe his kicks.
Expert in identifying hyperstrikes (a shoe with extremely limited quantities) and rare special project versions (those only available at specific retailers), Rosenthal has spent most of a decade amassing an assortment of Air Jordan and other high-end shoes. And for two and a half years, the budding entrepreneur has shared his passion for sneakers with the citizens of the five boroughs.
“I think there’s a big misconception surrounding sneaker culture,” Rosenthal said recently from the warehouse at The Sole Broker, the Grant City store he founded in 2019. “There is. a lot of people who don’t think it’s a viable business, an older generation who don’t understand why 20-30 year olds are obsessed with these shoes. But it’s a lucrative hobby. What if you don’t you’re not a collector, you probably take everything for granted.
The shoes Rosenthal talks about are coveted. Legendary. Some are even recognized by reputable auction houses like Sotheby’s, raising auctions of up to $ 100,000 due to their cultural significance.
This is why the young collector made a second career securing obscure shoes for a range of clients. And in his store, he has a balanced stock of rare and mainstream sneakers.
“Staten Island has a very particular sneaker demographics,” he noted. “It’s different from the rest of the city, because consumers here are more informed. They know what they want and they know how much they should pay for it. In Staten Island, if they like it, they buy it. So it’s my job to fill the store with shoes that appeal to borough residents.
Carrying everything from Air Jordan and Supreme to Yeezy and VLONE, The Sole Broker buys, sells and trades, offering consignment services at an 80/20 split. It sells both new and used, and has over 300 different items on its website, with sneakers priced from $ 50 to $ 1,250 (Nike SB Dunk “Grateful Dead”, originally published in 2020 and sold for $ 110). The store also has a strong online presence.
“The market is booming,” said Rosenthal. “Some people buy these shoes to display them, others buy to resell them, and then there are the people who wear them. We respond to each of these consumers.
Rosenthal, a registered nurse, said sneakers have always been a hobby. He got his start in the business 10 years ago, inspired by his brother, Dylan, who had been looking for sneakers for his customers for years.
“I bought my first pair of Jordans in 2009, and while I wouldn’t say I liked the shoes from the start, it has always been a big part of me,” Rosenthal said, revealing he had currently 50 pairs in its own well organized. personal collection. “I have always been a collector. My dad collected baseball cards and comics – I feel like he passed it on to me. I have a pair worth $ 20,000. I never thought I would be able to acquire such shoes, but it’s about being in the right place at the right time and building a good relationship. You kind of fall into a rabbit hole when you do this, but with each purchase you become more knowledgeable and knowledgeable about your product.
And after building a solid business on Staten Island, Rosenthal opened a second location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2020. Located across from the Supreme skate store on Grand Street and called The Sole Broker BK, the store had more than one half a million dollars in sales in its first year of operation, according to Rosenthal.
“Working hard and opening a business in my hometown has been a huge accomplishment,” he said. “But gaining brand recognition and opening a second store was a key moment for us. We are still in the works, but I am extremely proud of what we have done.
Rosenthal attributed his success to the personal vibe he projects in his two stores – he said he believes customer service is paramount and he treats his staff and customers like family. He also respects the buying habits of his customers and works with them to offer the best possible price.
“We’re a small business from Staten Island and we have that mom and pop vibe,” Rosenthal said. “I myself am a consumer and this is how I approach the management of my business. What we are doing here cannot be duplicated.
Son of two self-taught entrepreneurs – his mother bottles and sells her own line of salad dressings and his father owns a plumbing service business – Rosenthal said he was inspired by their work ethic when he decided to start The Sole Broker. Extremely selective in the shoes he purchases, favoring the sought after Air Jordan and Yeezy, Rosenthal said he is always on the lookout for samples and collaborations – shoes that have only been developed in small numbers.
Like the Scarr’s Pizza Air Force 1 Low, which was designed by basketball player DJ Clark Kent and Scarr Pimentel, founder of the legendary Scarr’s Pizza on the Lower East Side, in 2019. Only 48 pairs of pizza-inspired shoes were made, all of which were offered to friends and family. When one of the pairs resurfaced online, it was bought and ultimately auctioned off by Sotheby’s for over $ 121,000.
“You have car collectors who love old and vintage cars and there are those who buy newer models – it’s the same with shoes,” Rosenthal said. “Some buy a general version – a mass-produced Air Jordan – but others choose to spend their money on something more iconic, like a shoe that MJ himself wore.”
The shoe Rosenthal wears almost every day? The Jordan 4 Retro Bred, better known as the “Black Cement”.
“They are versatile,” he says.
Rosenthal is in the process of renovating its Grant City store, adding room for more storage, as demand for its product has grown exponentially. In the future, he said he hopes to develop the brand even further.
“Sometimes I can’t believe how quickly this business has grown,” he concluded. “It is my goal to continue to rely on it in the future. “