Kamala Harris’ nephew is pictured at the unveiling wearing Dior Air Jordans that sold for $ 2,000 but sell for $ 10,000 in the secondary market, ”says Roberto“ Berto ”Fontanez. He pulls one from his storefront shelf, 9/10 Sneaker Boutique, in South Baltimore. “If you can find them,” he adds, stopping and smiling. “They are in limited edition. Demand is increasing. It’s my business model.
Fontanez releases another shoe, a colorful $ 2,800 high top shoe inspired by LeBron James ‘What the MVP’ and explains how the aftermarket works for special edition shoes like Air Jordans and Yeezys, Kanye West’s popular Adidas collaboration. Basically, it goes like this: someone gets their hands on some super trendy sneakers, still in the box, that they bought after winning a virtual raffle (no one stands in line when the shoes fall) or acquired. via other happy circumstances. Then they take them to 9/10 for resale. On rare occasions, a relative of one of the town’s NBA stars or a college baseball player in the DI area comes up with shoes in high demand to make a quick buck.
Buyers and sellers can post or find sneakers on Instagram or eBay. It’s just more fun to come to 9/10. On TV there’s a constant loop of ’90s videos from artists like Nas and DMX, there’s a legitimate Michael Jordan mini-museum in the window, and along one wall there’s a range retro video games, epic Mortal combat and NBA Jam, among them.
With the back-and-forth conversation, the swagger and the trash talk – “I sold these shoes to this dude and I don’t even work here” – the vibe is more of a local barber shop than Dick’s Sporting Goods. In fact, there is a leather barber chair here. It is used, like an old shoe shining chair, for quick and professional cleaning of sneakers. (The shoes can also be dropped off for repackaging.)
Crows and orioles have shopped here, but sneakerheads come from everywhere. “China, Brazil, Australia, they visit Baltimore, the Inner Harbor, they follow us on Instagram and stop,” says Fontanez.
If it is not clear, these basketball shoes are not for playing basketball. They are for a date, a party, a prom, or just an Instagram post. The only time a problem arises is when a child drags its mother, whom he naturally hasn’t informed that this is no ordinary mall shoe store. Mom looks at the prices – most are between $ 200 and $ 400 and others over $ 1,000 – and panics.
The origin story of 9/10, whose name brings to mind potential sellers touting the condition of the shoes they want to sell – “9/10” unofficially means worn no more than five times – begins with Fontanez and his mother. . He was born in 1980 in Chicago and well, do the math, Jordan had led the Bulls to six NBA titles and started a cultural revolution with Nike by the time he graduated from high school.
Fontanez’s parents, both native of Puerto Rico, worked twice and, along with his siblings, he received a new pair of shoes every year. Except in ninth grade, when his pleading convinced his mother to buy him Nike’s new Diamond Turfs that year, setting a life course in motion. At 19, he started working in the Finish Line sporting goods store.
Five years ago, after moving to Baltimore and running several of their local stores, Fontanez decided he was tired of the corporate world. He went out on his own, opening first in a small space in downtown Towson. Then he moved to Pigtown and finally to Light Street.
“I was nervous about moving into town to a bigger space,” Fontanez says. “My partner quit right before our opening in Towson and stayed with Finish Line. I was married and had three children.
However, he soon received a sign that allayed his anxiety. Shortly after it opened in Pigtown, someone cleaning a nearby house asked if he had bought any souvenirs. Fontanez told him no. The guy described the Michael Jordan poster he found anyway. “I had a lot of Jordanian memories, but I didn’t have the ‘Jordan Wings’ poster, a horizontal poster two feet high and six feet wide. Framed originals now cost $ 1,000 or more. It was the one he had found.
“This poster was in my dentist’s office in Chicago when I was in school, and I had looked at it for hours over the years,” Fontanez continues. “The guy who randomly brought him in?” He didn’t know what it was worth. He asked for $ 20. I gave $ 100 and had to force him to take it. It’s in the window.