Photo and Story by Breshaun Oglesby / Contributing Writer
Colby Obrien, 23, is transforming the sneaker culture in Tennessee one sole at a time.
Obrien is the owner of Sole Collections, a sneaker consignment shop, located on 115 East Vine St. in Murfreesboro. It’s the only sneaker consignment store in the metro area that allows customers to buy, sell or trade their shoes. The shop also sells vintage jerseys, snapbacks and other apparel.
The shop, which opened last June, started with 100 pairs of shoes. Fast-forward eight months later, and the shop now contains over 700 pairs, with prices ranging from $40 to over $400.
Obrien says he opened the store because he saw a need for a sneaker shop in the community.
“There [are] sneaker shops all out west, all up north, everywhere, and I saw how it was doing good everywhere else,” he said. “So I might as well bring the culture here and see how it takes off.”
Obrien first fell in love with sneakers around 2005. He credits Foamposites and Jordans for being the reason why he decided to get heavily involved in the sneaker culture.
“I remember standing in lines, camping out, trying to get the Jordans. Then, I’d get them and feel better.”
Many people prefer his store over traditional shoe stores since prices are generally lower than retail and Obrien allows customers to come in and sell or trade their pairs. Often the trade is an even exchange, giving the customer a different pair of shoes for free.
Stephen Joy, 23, a senior at Middle Tennessee State University, said trading is one of his favorite things about the store. He was able to get one of his favorite pairs of shoes, the Yeezy Foamposites, while shopping at the store and saved over $100.
“Foams really go for $250. After the resell, they go for $300-$350,” Joy said. “Everybody is really gravitating towards him, because instead of going to to the mall paying $80 for some Nikes, you can go there and get them for $60 or $40.”
Even though Nashville doesn’t have any stores quite like Sole Collections, Obrien says he decided to open up in Murfreesboro because he’s from the area.
“Murfreesboro is my home; it’s where I’m from,” he said. “So, why would I want to commute all the way to Nashville when we have a big college, five high schools here, plenty of people and culture from Murfreesboro?”
A former high school dropout — he now has a GED — he said he never saw the need to go to college.
“If you are going to be a doctor or something like that, you have to go to get the knowledge to do what you have to do,” he says. “For me, I knew I was going to be a business owner, so it [was] like, ‘Why go through that step?’”
Since opening, the store he has gradually increased its clientele and has become well known in not only the Middle Tennessee area but in the state as a whole.
“(It’s) a pretty good staple around here now,” Obrien says.“People pretty much know about us, and the people that do [not] know about us are finding out every day.”
The store’s active social media presence plays a big role for the it’s frequent visitors. Javier Jackson, 20, a devout sneakerhead, owns 25 pairs of shoes. He says he and his friends visit the store as often as 10 to 15 times a month.
“Anytime he gets something new, he posts it,” Jackson says. “He just has a good way of spreading the word through social media.”
Just like any other business owner, Obrien hopes to expand.
“It [is] going to take some time, because I want to build a good foundation here,” Obrien says. “Expansion is what every entrepreneur wants.”
Follow Sole Collections on Instagram at @_solecollections.
Breshaun Oglesby is a sophomore at MTSU and writer for Sidelines.