Some men may never admit it, but their obsession with sneakers may be just as bad as some women’s obsession with designer shoes. For Craig Ballard, his mission is to keep the men of Hunting Park “fresh” for everyday life.
For two years, Ballard has been selling sneakers on the sidewalk of Just Like New Furniture, a store owned by his uncle on Hunting Park Avenue.
“Everybody always wants to be fresh. Sometimes they go to the store and the store doesn’t have what they want or they can’t afford what they want,” Ballard said.
“We have shoes of all sizes from $35-$65. People around here always want to be fresh and that’s where I come in,” he said. “Unlike some of the other stores, I’m open just about every day, even holidays.”
Ballard, who brings his two children and nephews with him to work, feeds off the customers of the furniture store and other businesses around him.
“Everybody needs some furniture. When they come to the furniture store, they see the sneakers on the side and they automatically stop over,” he said. “When people drive out of the McDonald’s and see AirMaxes that are normally $160 for $65, they’re coming because they can get two pairs of sneakers for the price of one.”
Along with sneakers, Ballard also sells an assortment of handbags, purses, cell phone cases and clothes. But when asked what keeps him coming back day after day, Ballard’s answer was simple. “I’ve got to keep hustling for the kids. They always want to help me because they know Sunday is Chuck E. Cheese day. That’s all they know.”