If you thought your teenage daughter was obsessed with shoes, she’s got nothing on the estimated 800 souls (pun intended) set to descend on West Nyack this month for the Addicted 2 Sneakers Expo. At this biannual event, shoe fanatics can purchase, sell, or trade sneakers; it’s the ideal place to get your hands on that awesome pair of kicks.
Nyack resident Jon Marsland decided to stage the sneaker expo last year at the urging of his nephew, Gabriel Jean-Gilles. “He goes to sneaker shows in New York City all the time and asked me to go with him. At first I said, ‘What’s that?’ ” he remembers with a laugh. The New York show gave Marsland his first glimpse at the “sneakerhead world” — a subculture of hip hop that took off in the ’80s when Nike released the Air Jordans and sneakers became collectible. Marsland was quickly convinced that the Valley could support an expo of its own. “There’s such a huge market for it here among the youth; it’s great to bring it to Rockland,” he says.
Marsland and Jean-Gilles, with help from Marsland’s brother-in-law, Daniel, did exactly that. In June 2012 they held the first expo, which drew in so many guests that subsequent events were relocated to larger venues. Besides the 800 expected guests at this month’s show, more than 50 vendors are slated to sell their wares. And lest you think that means only sneakers, guess again: Brands like Sneaker Fairy and In the Cut Exclusive (to name two) also have art, vintage sportswear, and custom jewelry available.
Folks not interested in buying head to the second floor, which is reserved for trading. Collectors bring their own kicks and bargain with other attendees for a swap. “People walk around holding their shoes up in the air, even on their heads,” says Marsland. Depending on the value of the shoe, traders can make bank. “Last year, we had a 16-year-old make about $2,000,” Marsland recalls.
Those who own a unique pair of sneakers can enter the SNKR Pimp Tournament, which is set up like a basketball bracket (two contestants face off, with the winner advancing to take on the winner of a previous round). The overall champion is chosen based on audience approval, and receives a $100 cash prize and a victory belt similar to those won by prizefighters at boxing matches. Last year, top honors were nabbed by the owner of a pair of Nike Air MAG that had been used in the movie Back to the Future Part II.
While the event mostly attracts men between 15 to 35, Marsland says they are working on ways to entice more women. “Right now, the women we see are mostly moms with their teenage sons,” he says. But the expo can be a boon for them, too. After all, says Marsland: “It’s right before the holidays. It’s the perfect place to get a last-minute gift.”
The Addicted 2 Sneakers Expo takes place on December 21 at 10 a.m. at Levity Live. Tickets are $15 at the door.