By Coshandra Dillard
A couple of years ago, Timothy Mast was waiting in a long line while on break from work to buy a pair of Air Jordan 6 sneakers. After his purchase, he ran into an issue.
He’d received the last pair of the exclusive shoes, ahead of a young boy. The fact that some people stand in lines for hours and put a lot of energy into purchasing shoes only to walk away with nothing made him feel some type of way.
“There has to be a better way,” he recalls thinking.
So he set out to help people get their hands on authentic and limited edition sneakers through the resale market. He now has clientele around the world, which includes sports figures and other celebrities.
Upon his success, he opened a brick and mortar store, Fresh Pair Sneakers, late last year on Glenwood Boulevard. On his store shelves are plenty of Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and other major brands. He also repairs sneakers and customizes them.
Mast, 34, has been a part of the sneaker culture for as long as he can remember. He said his first pair of shoes was Nike and he’s been infatuated with sneakers since Michael Jordan turned his brand into a merchandising empire.
From rap music and quotes by the Notorious B.I.G., Mast’s store has a vibe that lures young people in. He lives by the mantra “be dope and do dope things.” But he pushes back on the perception that sneaker wearers aren’t to be taken seriously. His customers include people of varying tax brackets and backgrounds from “sneaker heads” and skateboarders to professional men and people in their 60s.
“The sneaker game is a whole other world within itself,” Mast says. “There’s a reason why people pay $300 and up to $1,000 for sneakers. It’s one of the things that brings people of all walks of life together.”
One reason is the exclusivity of wearing a quality brand that’s often hard-to-get. Another reason has to do with the ability to express a person’s style or make a statement.
Mast said sneaker culture isn’t just for those who wear casual or street clothes. It’s also for professional and upscale men who’d like to jazz up their attire.
“I’ve worn some (Air Jordan) Concord 11s with a tuxedo,” Mast says. “If I’m not wearing sneakers, something’s going on.”
Mast is loving his new life as an entrepreneur and calls it a passion.
“It doesn’t feel like work at all,” he says. “It’s about building relationships. That’s just business — staying consistent and following through.”
Before he opened his store, Mast worked in tech support at Suddenlink. He encourages other would-be business men and women to take the leap when they are passionate about something — even if others perceive the idea as far-fetched.
“If you have an idea, just run with it,” he says. “Do due diligence and your research. You’re the only one who can do it.”
He adds, “Always remember starting out that everybody is not going to believe in you. You have to believe in yourself. You’re going to have sleepless nights but it’ll pay off.”