Young entrepreneur gives new retail life to old sneakers, sports clothing
By Jeff Morrow for TCAJOB
When Travis Higbee first started collecting foot bling as a teenager, it didn’t take long for his parents to collectively put their feet down.
“My parents couldn’t afford my habits anymore,” Higbee said.
Now just 21, the 2013 Hanford High graduate is opening his own retail store that sells sneakers, old sports jerseys and other clothing.
Higbee and business partner Mike Rorie will open the store, called Get In Where You Fit In, in early July at 3311 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite D214, in Kennewick.
This isn’t the first time Higbee has rung up retail sales in his own store.
From November 2013 to the following November, Higbee had a similar store, also called Get In Where You Fit In, in an upstairs suite at the north end of the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland.
“The last few years, I’ve been trying to sell things online,” he said. “Then I started to get so many people asking me when I was going to open a store again. There is nothing like this around here culture-wise. You’d have to go to Seattle.”
But even when he didn’t have a store, Higbee continued to collect what he terms “gently-used shoes.”
He’s got so much stock now that when he looks around the floor space of the shop’s 660 sq. ft., he laments.
“Now I wish I got a bigger space,” he said.
Used sports sneakers are big business.
Higbee found that out fast as a teenager.
“I went on Ebay and purchased a pair of Jordan 11s for $150,” he said. “Then I turned around and sold them for $560. It kind of blew my mind.”
But it also helped him clear a hurdle that loomed large for him as he pondered his future.
“After high school, I was scared to go to college, and I didn’t have the money,” Higbee said. “But the big thing I found was that people were into shoes.”
At his old store, he was able to obtain a pair of Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas’ shoes. He sold them for $3,000, he said.
The most expensive pair of tennis shoes he has right now is a pair of Kanye West Adidas he values at $1,800.
Michael Jordan, one of the greatest NBA stars of all time, hasn’t played a professional game since 2003.
But that hasn’t stopped his shoes from being some of the most coveted around.
His 2013 Nike Jordans are big sellers.
And Jordan now has teamed up with Supreme, the legendary skateboard shoes and clothing company, to make at least three retro editions of the Air Jordan shoes – the shoes that many people consider the ones that started the sneaker craze in the 1980s.
“Since 2002 it’s really blown up,” Higbee said. “When the market opened up, some people would buy a pair of shoes and then stock a pair.”
“Some people will buy a pair of shoes, take a picture with them on, post it online, and then sell them,” Higbee said.
And, as the trend spans time, Higbee’s clientele gets older and he has a broader base.
“When I opened the first store, it was a lot of young kids coming in,” he said. “Now our target market is high school kids all the way up to guys in their 30s.”
But he won’t forget about the younger kids, either.
“We’ll sell skateboards as well,” he said. “There are no local skate shops around here. We’ll also have an area to play video games in the store.”
Higbee expects dead stock – brand new, never worn clothes — and his used clothing will be at about a 50-50 ratio in the store.
“Shoes are still the biggest sellers,” he said. “But this is the first time we’ll sell jerseys. And we’re really focused on street wear. And there will be a station to make your own clothes, with embroidery.”
Higbee expects his store will be a place for kids to hang out.
“I want it to be a community where everyone can come in,” he said.