What do rappers, middle schoolers, basketball players and (probably) your dad all have in common? In Chris Robinson’s words, “They all appreciate a good pair of sneakers.” And he would know! Robinson, known far and wide as SBCollector, has made his fortune in the sneaker resale industry. Having built a company from the ground up, Chris knows what it means to, in his words, ‘appreciate a good pair of sneakers’. His personal collection alone is worth over two million dollars.
I’ve gotten used to interviewing people online, but since Chris and I are both from New Jersey, I decided to come over to his skate shop (yes, he owns a skate shop) and talk about a new project he’s very excited about (hint, it’s not sneakers). Chris was waiting for me outside, grinning under his mask. We go inside and sit down.
M: So, Chris, the first question is this: what do you think of my sneakers?
C: (laughs) Air Force 1s in white, a classic. You might want to clean them up a little, but I got you, I have some spray that’ll make those good as new.
M: Ok, so now that we know my shoes are cool. What are you wearing right now?
C: I’ve got on Graph Paper Nike SB dunks, they were a Japan only release in 2015.
M: So tell me about your start in the shoe world.
C: I opened my shop in 2011, when I was 19 years old. But I loved sneakers as long as I can remember. In order to stay on trend with the industry, you have to keep up to date daily with different blogs; such as hype beast, sneakernews, and nice kicks. As well as pay attention to the influential celebrities, and what they wear because at the end of the day they’re the ones starting the trends.
M: I know you opened this skateshop too, were you a big skater?
C: No I was never really a skater. But we share a common language, and a love for shoes. The local skate shop in my area Bare Wires was going out of business, so I purchased it, renovated, and saved it for the local kids in the community. The biggest challenge I faced was getting the respect from a community that I wasn’t a part of: the skate world is a tight knit group and being someone that was never involved in that community now owning a skate shop was a bit difficult to navigate at the time. But they’ve since been so warm and really brought me into the fold.
M: Do you recall the experience when you bought your first pair of sneakers? What was it like?
C: The first pair of Nike’s I ever purchased was when I was 16 working at McDonalds and I got my first paycheck. I went right to A&J Sneakers in Asbury Park, NJ and purchased a pair of White with a navy blue check Air Force One low-top, put them on, and wore them out of the store. It was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever experienced. It definitely kicked off my addiction.
M: What is something that surprised you about the sneaker industry when you started working on it?
C: The biggest surprise to me in the sneaker industry was the amount of money that people are willing to spend on limited edition sneakers. My collection has become so valuable that I have accumulated an asset -based net worth of $1.5 million from selling a portion of my collection. Even still, I have one of the top sneaker collections in the world with a value of a couple million dollars. I think sometimes people who aren’t in the industry look down on sneaker collecting as silly or unsustainable, meanwhile they have a collection of civil war muskets or whatever worth millions. It’s the same idea. The value is there.
M: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
C: In the next ten years, I hope to be a “multiple-collaboration-partner” with some of the top sneaker brands in the world. I have a lot of designs I’m really excited about and I want to see those become a reality. I think there’s lots of room for creativity in this space and I have the creative and business side down.
To learn more about Chris Robinson and see his insane sneaker collection be sure to check out his Instagram @sbcollector