Fahrenheit 313 was geared up to welcome customers to its grand opening on Friday, March 13 – Detroit Day – when the looming COVID-19 pandemic altered those plans slightly. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had ordered businesses to restrict the number of customers inside establishments. But to Fred Paul II’s amazement, the people who love gym shoes, known colloquially as “sneakerheads,” still showed for the grand opening of the sneaker exchange shop in Detroit.
“We sold out pretty much all of our inventory,” says Paul, owner of Fahrenheit 313. Despite mandated business closures, Paul wanted to seize on the grand opening’s momentum. He knew that would be somewhat challenging because he thought people would be focused on basic needs – not sneakers.
Plus, as a sneaker exchange, Fahrenheit 313 buys, sells and trades previously owned sneakers. Customers and Fahrenheit 313 employees need to touch, feel and see the sneakers. So how is Fahrenheit 313 handling buying and trading sneakers during a pandemic?
A customer connects with the shop online and sends in a photo of the sneakers they’re looking to sell. The store provides an initial appraisal, and a curbside drop-off is arranged. The shoes are authenticated for legitimacy and given a final value.
They also held a sneaker madness tournament, a nod to March Madness, and a fire sale to pique customer interest. Those moves have paid off. “The business has continued to grow,” Paul says. “We’ve been shipping shoes and it’s really been a success.” Paul, a native Detroiter and sneakerhead since sixth grade, got started selling his own Nike Air Jordans on eBay while attending Western Michigan University.
Paul’s older sister RaShanda Miller and cousins Eric Long and Bruce Maddox also work in the family business. All authenticate, buy and appraise sneakers. “We’re experts in the field,” Paul says. “They are heavily in tune with the culture and what’s hot. Growing up they all introduced me to sneakers as they kept the newest Jordans and loved them with a passion.”
20114 Livernois Ave., Detroit