They spent four days and nights on line outside a Fifth Avenue store to buy the hottest sneakers ever to be designed in Brooklyn, but six kids went home on Tuesday with nothing but a newfound sense of bitterness and the same shoes they came in.
The half-dozen teens camped outside Premium Goods, a sneaker store between Fifth and Sixth streets, starting on Friday afternoon, sleeping on folding chairs, and relying on relatives for food.
It’s no wonder that emotions run high — and lines run long — when hot new kicks are for sale.
“You read blogs, you look at forums, to tell about a particular shoe, and then if it’s really good, we all get together and do a camp out,” said Ricardo Velez, one of the six men on line outside Premium Goods. “It’s all about the hypeness of a particular shoe.”
And make no mistake: the rare and eye-catching white, purple and gray Atomic Zoom Kobe 1 has got the hype.
Premium owner Clarence Nathan designed the shoe himself, choosing colors, emblems and other design elements after analyzing Bryant’s stated likes and dislikes in life.
That’s why the sneaker features the infinity symbol (a rotated version of Bryant’s uniform number 8 and also a tribute to Einstein’s famed E=MC2 energy equation) and an atom image with Bryant’s personal “black mamba” logo in place of the nucleus.
There will only be 16 pairs of the shoes made — eight will sell in Brooklyn and eight in Houston. A pair will set you back $440!
The teens thought that being first on line would give them first crack at the Atomic Zoom Kobe, which is being released on Aug. 8 in honor of the Beijing Olympics and Team USA’s star player, Kobe Bryant.
But they thought wrong.
Three days into the kids’ vigil, Nathan told them to scram, saying that he now intended to sell the sneakers by raffle — and entrants needed to buy something at the store before they could enter.
Fairness, he said, was his goal.
“These kids are young, it’s summertime, they have a lot of time on their hands, but they think that they can come camp out — kids that don’t normally patron your shop — and get the sneakers,” said the owner, Clarence Nathan.
“Everybody wants these sneakers,” he added, saying that only 16 pairs exist — and only eight will be sold in Brooklyn. “If I allowed these boys to buy them, people would have been lining up for months, and I can’t have that.”
It’s no surprise that Nathan decided to not sell his new shoe to some tireless, but unknown kids. Unbeknownst to many Park Slopers, Nathan and his Premium Goods, formerly in Fort Greene, are a big deal in the urban footware world.
“Clarence…has had [Brooklyn] addicted to kicks like crack in the ’80s since 2003 and has earned the reputation of the best boutique in Brooklyn,” Nice Kicks, a seminal sneaker Web site, reported earlier this year (in what appears to be praise).
But Nathan’s idea of “fairness” is another sneaker-crazed teen’s sham.
“It’s not fair, it’s not right,” Erick Cruz, who gave up his job at a Queens McDonald’s to wait on line with his friends, said after Nathan dispersed the line.
A friend’s mother went further: “It’s an injustice,” she said. “[The owner] wants his friends to have the shoes [in the raffle].”
None of the six men — who together waited 576 hours for the Atomic Zoom Kobe 1 — will get a pair, but they’ve already moved on, back to their lives, their jobs, their families and other friends.
Of course, those reunions were only temporary.
By Wednesday, all six teens were in Harlem, where they were lining up after getting a tip about another exclusive sneaker that Velez called “a beaut!”