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What to Watch: Sneaker Chains Constrict

While the demand for sneakers continues to increase, it’s no longer enough to sell them in a run-of-the-mill retail environment.
Larger chains including Foot Locker, which closed 24 U.S. stores in 2017, and Shiekh Shoes, a West Coast retailer with 120 stores that filed for bankruptcy in November, must adapt to a changing consumer who wants to buy special product in a thoughtful space and is inundated with alternative ways to purchase shoes — whether that’s an e-commerce site, specialty boutique, resale app, or a festival and marketplace like ComplexCon or Sneaker Con.
“Today I think we have a few too many sneaker stores in the U.S.,” said Yu-Ming Wu, the cofounder of Sneaker Con. “There is an incredible demand for rare sneakers but when it comes to the general release sneakers like Air Jordans, the supply doesn’t meet the demand. Some of these guys have relied on the old model that every Saturday an Air Jordan is going to sell out, but that’s not always going to hold true today.”
Shiekh Shoes owes $16 million to Nike, and the store’s founder, Shiekh Ellahi, attributes his troubles to the shrinking demand for bricks-and-mortar retailers as well as suppliers’ desire to sell their products

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