It's a beautiful Saturday here in Manhattan; think we'll take a walk down Delancey Street, and turn onto Eldridge and ... what's this? Dozens of young men camped out on the sidewalk? Sleeping bags and folding chairs ... is there a fourth Star Wars prequel we didn't know about? Another Harry Potter volume? That J.K. Rowling can sure churn them out. But no, that's not it. These kids have been in line since Tuesday for shoes. They were in front of Nort, the Manhattan specialty shoe store which on Saturday broke out a small quantity of Nike's latest limited edition sneaker, the Nike Stash Air Force One. The shoes were gobbled up within minutes on Saturday in a scene that was repeated in San Francisco's North Beach the following day. Stash himself was on hand at both stores; he's the grafitti artist who co-designed the shoe. Yes, we're sort of amused by the last sentence ourselves.
In case you haven't heard, or don't wear shoes, the collectible athletic shoe market is all the rage right now. There are people running around called Shoeheads, who hoard athletic shoes like Star Wars fans collect Obi Wan action figures, only without quite the social stigma. There are even shoe message boards, where posters proudly trade pictures of their shoes. Nike is leading the way due to some very smart marketing, perhaps learned from the Beanie Baby folks: They limit the quantity of special editions, go easy on the hype and keep those Pakistani kids working day and night to roll out new versions. Nike has been around so long that its starting to cash in on a retro market; the Stash Air Force One, for instance, is a current design based on the 1995 version of Air Force One. Would you line up for five days to buy shoes? Frank Ferraro of Vacaville did. "I've been planning this for three months," he told San Francisco's KRON-TV. "These shoes are a work of art." Wayne White, 16, flew to San Francisco from Houston for a pair. And he barely got home before slapping those puppies onto eBay (well, it might be him). It's all nuts, and we're quite certain that Nike will rule the world before the decade is out.