Gary Phillips/Sports Digital Editor
Rapper Kanye West loves the spotlight.
In accordance with the superstar’s self-centered personality, it is only fitting that the Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, a shoe designed by West himself, is sitting atop a brightly lit case at CMB Kicks, a super specialty store within walking distance of Seton Hall.
At $6,000, the Yeezy is the most expensive item in the small shop on South Orange Ave. in the South Orange commercial district. Specializing in rare sneakers, CMB caters to a customer base made up of collectors.
“Our store is unique,” general manager Travis Edwards said. “It’s filled with products that are somewhat rare. We have limited sneakers that most stores, like a Footlocker, would be sold out of immediately. Then, where’s the only place you can find them? CMB Kicks.”
Edwards pointed out that he also carries less expensive shoes, such as Vans and Reeboks, that appeal to “regular customers.” But it is clear that these shoes get little attention in the shop.
The walls of the store, which has been open for nearly two years now, are lined with every high-end sneaker imaginable, with many coming in various colors. Each shoe is sealed in shrink wrap that is perfectly form-fitting. Edwards, along with owners Brett Ermeus and Michael Gillard, cannot risk anything happening to their goods.
The Yeezy Red Octobers
Gary Phillips/Sports Digital Editor
Basketball sneakers from Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kevin Durant make up the majority of the store’s inventory. There are also various models of the popular Roshe running shoes. A pair with black toes and laces, white bottom and turquoise and yellow body stands out from the rest.
On the other side of the store there are three Air Jordan 14 Retro Ferraris lined one on top of the other. A mockup of the yellow Ferrari logo sits just below the heel, but the horse has been replaced with Jordan’s classic Jumpman logo. The Italian sports car-themed footwear starts at $350.
Then, for $450, there is the purple, pink and neon yellow Jordan “Bel-Air,” inspired by the famous Will Smith 90’s sitcom. The $275 Weatherman Foams depict a weather map. For $200, the KD6 Christmas is a combination of red and mint green well-suited for the holidays.
CMB also customizes shoes, sometimes for high-profile clients.
“The guys don’t come in, but they send their people,” Ermeus said. “Giants players, Baltimore Ravens, Whoopi Goldberg’s assistant comes here. The ESPN guy, Chris Broussard, he’s from the area. Knicks’ corporate heads and Devils players too. There’s so many.”
Behind Ermeus is a pair of pink Air Jordan 6’s customized for breast cancer awareness. The shoes read “Fight” and “Hope” on the sides.
For Ermeus, a former manager at Costco, and Gillard, a former part-owner of a transportation company, CMB allows them to combine self-employment with a hobby they love.
“Mike was already an entrepreneur,” Ermeus said. “We wanted to do our own thing. We didn’t want to work for anybody, we wanted to work for ourselves. That’s where it started. We collected a lot of sneakers on a personal level. When you collect sneakers you start to meet a lot of different people and you start to build bridges. Once we started to get certain connections, well, the shoe fit.”
Just like that, CMB Kicks was born. Now Ermeus realizes that his store offers his patrons a place like no other, especially when it comes to the area.
“You’re looking at sneakers that people couldn’t wait in line to get to,” he said. “Here you can pay for the pre-order service. New York has been the mecca for sneaker shops for the longest time, but you’re starting to see that pick up out here in New Jersey.”
Then, as if on cue, a customer tells Ermeus that he is there to pick up three pairs of shoes he had pre-ordered.
Gary Phillips can be reached email@example.com or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.