Everybody has a friend that seemingly has a different pair of Nikes for every occasion. There’s the birthday party pair, the barbecue pair and the out-on-a-Friday-night pair. Yes, we all have a sneakerhead in our midst and we all stand in awe of their stunning collection of kicks that would make Imelda Marcos jealous. And now, Capital Region sneakerheads have a place to call their own.
Enter Trap Sole Kitchen, which has just opened on 4th Street in Downtown Troy, and specializes in rare and premium sneakers and streetwear that you can’t find at traditional retailers. In other words, the items were given a hyper-limited release, sold out within minutes and now command astronomical prices on the secondary market that might make your wallet wince—unless, of course, you’re a collector. Take the latest Michael Jordan–related footwear, which Trap Sole Kitchen has an entire section dedicated to in its shop and on its website. Want those Air Jordan 6 Retro Electric Greens? That’ll be $350, thank you. What about the Union X Air Jordan 4 Retro SP Guava Ices? A bit more: $1,100. And because anything that holds value to collectors tends to be counterfeited, the shop guarantees its sneakers are authentic and unused.
Trap Sole Kitchen actually shares a space with two other Collar City businesses, a women’s boutique on the first floor and barbershop/salon on the second, both under the name Authentic Establishments. Trap Sole’s owner, Frank Thompson, says that his fellow business owners have been in the space for nearly two years and had their grand opening during the pandemic, but it was obviously under different circumstances entirely, what with the mask and social distancing mandates in place. “They’re going to have a brand-new grand opening, celebrating my addition, and it’ll be a great do-over for them, since now everything is open, and the public will actually be able to attend,” says Thompson.
How do you wind up selling rare sneakers? It turns out that Thompson has been a longtime sneakerhead himself. “I got one pair for my birthday, and I was the envy of my entire family,” he says. “That’s how coveted they were to me, so once I was old enough to have a job, that’s pretty much where all my money went.” Starting out as a collector, Thompson transitioned into the sneaker-selling business in 2016, when he was working at a chemical plant, and he and his fellow workers went on strike for eight months. “My income got cut in half,” he says, “so I had to figure out another way to supplement it.” That’s when he discovered that the 518 had its own underground sneaker-buying and -selling community, and after talking to some collectors, he learned that the collection of Jordans he’d amassed and never gotten rid of over the years—the used ones, mind you—were worth quite a bit of money. Almost immediately he sold two pairs of used sneakers for $200 each. “So I was, like, this is amazing,” says Thompson. “I think I found a way to supplement my income.” He used the money he’d made from his used shoe sales to start buying up new pairs and reselling those.
Now five years deep in the sneaker trade, Thompson says he has a huge network of friends across the country that he can obtain hard-to-get sneakers from. “I’m actually able to offer a more unique and rare selection than people have seen in this area,” he says. “That’s what I’m really excited about: When people come into the store, they’re going to see things in person they’ve only seen on the internet.”
Now, if you’re a bargain-hunting sneakerhead, you might want to just go to Champs or Foot Locker, because the least expensive pair you’re going to find at Trap Sole is about $280. But Thompson says he’s selling $10 raffle tickets at the moment, and if a customer happens to win said raffle, he or she could walk out with any pair of sneakers in his store. “If you buy 10 raffle tickets, that’s about the only way you’ll get a $100 pair of shoes out of my store,” Thompson says with a laugh.
But it’s not just pricey sneakers Thompson is selling at Trap Sole. The shop also sells everything from hard-to-come-by streetwear, framed Jordan posters, sealed hip-hop LPs and home décor items that you can use to kick your summer up a few notches, such as lawn chairs and Super Soakers. “The sneakers are definitely going to be the eye candy and the draw,” says Thompson, “but ultimately, what I want Trap Sole Kitchen to be is ‘home décor for Hypies.'” Thompson cites a lot of the brands that he carries such as Supreme, None Without Sin and Versace, all of whom have launched home décor side-hustles as well. “That’s really the market that I want to tap in to,” he says. “I really want to focus mostly on the home décor end, and helping people who are already sneakerheads and enthusiasts decorate their house with the same things that they wear on their back and feet.”