What this Shop is doing will have you itchin' for a Vegas Vacation! Check out my sit down with Urban Necessities! August 05 2015, 9 Comments
Integrity is hardly a word you would associate with resellers and consignment shops in the modern era of sneakers and fashion. If you’ve ever spent any time on the vast amount of sneaker buying, and selling pages online then you’ve seen that consignment shop prices are often mocked when used as a reference point for listing prices. Well, take a deep breath, and relax, there is a consignment shop out of Las Vegas, Nevada that has been steadily trending in the social media-sphere for its complete reconstruction of an obsolete business model. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the owners of Urban Necessities; Jaysse, Joanie, and Cease to get their story. You might have seen their pictures online for their ‘sneaker vending machine’, but that’s only the beginning.
To be completely honest, when Rauce offered me a position to write for Air Legends and gave me the description of topics he wanted to cover, I knew that this local consignment shop was at the top of my list for a story. The UN has broken the mold for consignment shops, and now the others are starting to follow suit; the vending machine being just one of many progressive ideas being utilized in stores across the country. What else do [have] they done? Let’s take a look…
Remember I mentioned consignment prices having laughable prices when it comes to price gauging? There’s a reason for that. The UN has been selling their shoes at lower prices than rival shops and still getting their customers back the most money for their shoes. How you ask? Well, they offer a consignment fee of 10%(or $20, whichever is greater), as opposed to the often charged 20%. But wait, Anthony, if the UN is selling for a lower price, doesn’t that mean I’m getting back less money? No. Since they’re charging a lower consignment fee, you’ll usually make more, and have the peace of mind knowing they’ll be sold quicker. The shop has had 7200 shoes move in and out of its doors since its grand opening September 17th, 2014. They still take the time to TEXT- yes that says text, as in a text message, their customers every Tuesday, to let them know that their shoes have been sold and there is a check waiting for you to be picked up. No more emailing the shop to inquire about your shoes; just sit back and collect checks. Out of state? Not to fear, they will send you your check through the mail.
Enough about the numbers, let me describe the experience to you; since that is why a large amount of sneaker enthusiasts began collecting- for the experiences. From the moment you walk into the shop, you can tell it’s an insane environment to be in. There’s music bumping from speakers, customers choppin’ it up with the owners and other customers, and even groups gathered by the Key Master machine in the corner; all hoping to be the lucky person to hit the Yeezy boosts 350 hanging in the rack. To say it’s an interactive place to be at, would be an understatement.
When I asked them what they thought separated them from the other shops, they all agreed it was the experience. “When you walk into our shop, what don’t you see?” asked Jay. I wasn’t sure what answer he was looking for, and he knew I was stumped. “Plastic wrap”, he said, and laughed. “None of our shoes are wrapped in plastic like other shops. Nothing worth spending this type of money on should be wrapped in plastic. We want the people that walk in here to be able to pick these shoes up, and hold them in their hands; get the full experience and not spend their money on something wrapped in plastic.” Joanie also let me know how she felt about the elitest vibes she felt at other shops. “We just didn’t want to limit ourselves to specific demographics. We have shoes for your every day person in here, all the way up to your top tier collectors.”
Now that you have an understanding of the current state of affairs at the UN, let’s bring it back, and give you a little back story about each of the owners before I talk about their future.
I asked each of them to tell me a little about themselves, what sneaker started it for them, and to provide some random knowledge for the readers.
- Jaysse Lopez; the face [beard]. If you follow these guys on social media, you’ll find Jaysee in most of the pictures, and videos that have us literally laughing out loud. A 9 year old Jaysee fell in love with a pair of shoes we know today as the OG Air Max 90 Infrared (yeah, a damn classic). He said he can remember having to beg his mother for these shoes, but growing up less privileged she had to pay for them via layaway. “It made me appreciate my shoes so much more, because I knew how hard she worked to pay for them for me. I wore those things until my damn toes went through the toe box!”
- Joanie Lopez; the self and shop proclaimed mother; due to the fact that she makes sure everyone at the shop has eaten, and are always having what they need; knowing damn well that even hunger could mess with their focus. She is the one handling the majority of the logistics, but loves to interact with the people coming into the shop.”My husband Jay, who was my boyfriend at the time, introduced me to shoes. I can remember him showing me a picture of some shoes he wanted to camp overnight for so we could resell; the Area 72 Barkleyposites. Then I remember telling him how hideous they were.” Joanie actually has her degree in business, and studied engineering as well. Don’t let that fool you though; Joanie has an amazing shoe collection. “Coming from working in a corporate setting, I never thought I’d ever have the opportunity to come to work every day, loving my job.”
- Cease Andrade; the guru. This guy has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sneakers; be it the legitimacy of them, story behind them, or the market price. “I definitely don’t know everything, there’s just so much to always learn. Everyday there’s something that comes into the shop and it just surprises me, man.” Cease started reselling sneakers on a Facebook sneaker group ‘Vegas Sneakerheads’ a few years ago. On social media you’ll see him usually flexing some Nike SB heat, but the shoe that actually started it for him? The 2006 Air Jordan Black Cat 4. He said that was the first sneaker he ever camped for, and from there he began buying up what he could. “The sneaker scene has created some of the greatest friendships I have.”
Urban Necessities grabbed the attention of the masses when they had released pictures of their Key Master machine- dubbed the ‘Heat Locker’. The nickname seems fitting since the machine is constantly filled with limited releases like Air Jordan Doernbecher models, Adidas Yeezy Boosts, and even some older Nike SB gems like the MF Dooms.
“This was a UN idea from the start”, Jaysse boasted. Joanie references their experience at a local Frye’s Electronics, “We threw a bunch of money into this Key Master game to try and win an iPad. I didn’t come close to winning, but it gave Jay and me an idea.” Jay and Joanie decided that if they ever opened a shop, they needed the machine in the shop; filled with Yeezy’s! “We researched the game and quickly learned how rigged store and arcade owners kept this machine so people didn’t win, and we didn’t like that. We wanted to provide people a legitimate chance to win at this game”, Joanie continued. “Jay started calling Sega the first day we were open in attempts to get us the machine.” When I asked Jay how that phone call went, he simply told me, “Expensive, but we knew we had to buy it, and that’s when we started saving for it.”
I know it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t try and rig this game, at least a little bit, but you’d be wrong. The UN has had 53 winners in the 29 days the Heat Locker has been made available for public use. “We have it set so it becomes a game of chance, just like at our Vegas casinos. We want people to win. It brings them back in to our store to play, and doesn’t make them feel cheated.” I witnessed his generosity a few weeks ago, when he gave a young kid $20 so he can keep trying because he had been blowing all of his money to only come within millimeters of victory.
When I described the forward thinking ideas of the UN, I left something out- purposely. I wanted those who had appreciation for the article up until this point to be rewarded with a feel good story. The UN saved a life. Yes, saved a life. They set up a GoFundMe for a gentleman that needed a heart transplant, Chris. They knew that helping him was a top priority for them, no matter what was going down at the shop. Jay had a plan, “It was important, man. Chris is a great guy and needed help. We had $2 from every sale in the shop go towards his GoFundMe” he said. When the transactions didn’t total enough for Chris to receive his much needed heart, Jay took it to the next level. He put together a raffle for Mayweather vs Pacquiao tickets that raised an outstanding $21,000 for Chris. Cease also felt emotional about it, he described his thoughts; “His surgeon called us to thank us for what we did. It was very emotional for those of us at the shop. We were just happy to help, and couldn’t believe it”.
What’s the future for the UN? Well, they were all very cryptic, but I managed to squeeze a bit of information out of them. “We currently have the raffle going on for two pairs of signed Nike Yeezy 2’s; Red Octobers, and Solars”, Cease tells me. Jay smiled and had but only a couple things to say. “The online shop is just having some tweaks done, its coming soon. We want it perfect. Also, in the next couple of months you can expect something new in the shop that is going to keep people here from open until close.” I tried to follow up on that, but he smirked and brushed it off. Me? I’m hoping for a Street Fighter arcade machine, but hey, that’s just me.
Just in case you happen to be an out of towner interested in grabbing a fresh pair of kicks, UN original t-shirt, or maybe just the experience, but don’t have the ability to travel away from the Vegas strip to the Boulevard Mall, the UN is here for you. They’ll personally drive to your hotel and swoop you up, and even bring you back!
Honorable mentions: Cody. Unfortunately, Cody; who is a huge part of Urban Necessities was out of town when this was conducted. He has been there since day one, and is described as an ‘instrumental piece’. From personal experience, I know that the shop wouldn’t have the same atmosphere without him.
If the past year is any indication for them, I think Jay, Joanie, and Cease are on their way to becoming the figurative ‘bar’ which will be set for all consignment shops. Air Legends is honored to cover these locals and are excited to continue the partnership between both businesses. Make sure you give Urban Necessities a follow on instagram; @Urban_Necessities.