Make your way down Flatbush Avenue between Hawthorne Street and Cortelyou Road.
What do you notice? On each passing block you might take note of a surplus of nail and hair salons, Chinese American and Caribbean American restaurants and not to mention a plethora of sneaker stores.
Whether it is V.I.M., Dr. Jays or Sneaker King, sneaker culture is a major part of the strip. Adding to the sneaker head hub is Michael Curtis with his sneaker restoration store: Retro Revivals.
Partner and avid sneaker head, Courtney Richardson, views the store as another layer for the sneaker community in Flabush.“I don’t think you can walk down any block on Flatbush Avenue and not see a sneaker store. I think on every block there’s a sneaker store because the sneaker business is so big in urban communities,” Richardson said.
The 24-year-old, St. Kitts and Nevis descendant, attended SUNY Old Westbury where he received his Bachelors in Public Relations. Partnering with other likeminded young men to run a business was not always something Richardson envisioned. “Originally in my life’s plans it was always to do construction and I still do. It’s still in my heart as I grew up off of it because of my father and it’s still something that I’m actually actively doing,” he said.
Richardson’s involvement with sneakers stemmed from his love and understanding of the sneaker head culture. A sneaker head himself, Richardson would constantly buy and wear in his sneakers. According to Richardson, there are two types: those who purchase and never wear them and those who purchase and get as many wears as possible.
Researching a mega community online of those who restored sneakers, Richardson encountered issues in getting his sneakers back to their fresh state. Operating as a free market, people were able to charge obscene prices and offered no sense of security.
“I was contacting people and they wanted like $100 a pair to restore them, they were telling me it was going to take three to six months and I had to mail it to somebody’s home — it was a lot of sketchy business,” he said. “I found like two or three people in New York and they told me they had like a six-month waiting period. All of those trials and tribulations of me trying to get my sneakers restored is what led me to the business we have today.”
The newly opened store offers a range of services for sneaker fanatics to breathe new life into worn in kicks. Whether it is a quick clean, scuff removal, or full restoration, Retro Revivals offers competitive prices and a quick turn around.
“At Retro Revivals, what you’ll find from us that you won’t find from other places is a convenient drop-off location. You’re able to come in, check on your sneakers, see the progress of what’s being done to your sneakers and have that security rather than mailing your sneakers to someone you met online,” he explained.
Richardson finds no restoration to be identical. Each sneaker poses its own host of issues and unique personality that needs to be handled with care.
Though he and his team find no restoration to be too difficult, they are also realistic in not selling false hope.
“Every sneaker comes with its own challenges,” Richardson said. “We try not to promise something that can’t be done or sell people a dream that isn’t possible. We’ve come across sneakers where the sole is completely disintegrated on one side and completely off on the other side and it has been off for so long that the sole and shoe don’t fit any more so we can’t reattach it.”
With Retro Revivals, Richardson believes this will only enhance the culture as it provides a second life for sneakers people love to be worn again.
“I can tell you from experience, there’s been numerous times I’ve purchased a pair of sneakers, got them that day and wearing them out that night. I go out and get a big scuff or a big crease and it kind’ve ruins your whole night,” he said.
Retro Revivals is located on Flatbush Avenue between Caton Avenue and Linden Boulevard. Stop in to give your favorite kicks a second life.