A Boston area store is showing it’s about more than just kicks.
by Adam Fleischer
It sounds like one of those commercials that runs so often you’ve never bothered to actually listen to it.
The soothing voice says something along the lines of, “It starts with an idea and people like you,” and then tries to prove that their company can somehow help your small business.
Maybe it’s an insurance commercial, maybe it’s a UPS ad, or maybe it’s one for American Express. I’m not sure. Like I said, by the 100th time it’s on, all I know is that I’m sick of it—despite having never actually paid attention to what was said. But my disinterest doesn’t discredit the validity of the little bit that I did digest.
Just ask Johnny Nguyen, Rahtha Saygnarath and John Campbell, co-owners and founders of Foot Traffik, located in Saugus, MA. For them, it started with an idea.
Growing up in nearby Lynn, MA, Nguyen and Saygnarath had hopes of transforming their love of sneakers into something more, something that they could share with others. As youth turned to maturity, it seemed more and more likely that dream could turn into reality.
Nguyen met Campbell while attending Babson College, where they are now in their junior and senior years, respectively. With Saygnarath, currently at Salem State, the trio teamed up and together brought their idea to fruition.
And it was truly the three of them who brought it to fruition. This is no cliche. With paint and hours of work, they turned every wall from bland to artistic triumph. They created every piece of furniture, including a bench posing as a shoebox, a bar that serves kicks instead of drinks and an innovative “What the Dunk” chair modeled after the exclusive Nike SB joints (“We made a lot of trips to Home Depot,” jokes Nguyen). The finished product makes for an atmosphere that is intimate, inventive and welcoming.
After a thematic greeting at the front door by a traffic light that shines green when the store is open and red when it’s closed, you next enter the first of two rooms and can’t help but eye the electronic ticker above the doorway as it scrolls the latest in sneaker related news, info, and release dates. You sure don’t see that everyday. As your eyes drift downward, they’re greeted by a collection of fresh t-shirts designed by the guys and collaborators next to a wall laced with every pair of Jordans, opposite one with Dunks, Forces and other exclusive jumpoffs. In other words, this little place is holdin’.
Foot Traffik and its founders aren’t simply about the shoes, though. They’re about supporting their community and giving back. It’s no coincidence that the store is located adjacent to where two thirds of it’s owners grew up, rather than in nearby Boston—where you’re likely to get a bit more foot traffic. They wanted to bring Saugus and surrounding areas a place unlike the malls to which they’re accustomed, but without having to trek into the city.
Swing by on October 17 and you’ll be greeted by a yellow light, but that’s no reason to slow down. Yellow signals that there’s an event happening at the store—and this is one that’ll definitely be worth checking out.
This Saturday, Foot Traffik will be holding an auction to help raise money and collect sneakers for their charity, “Grow A Pair.” The Hovian double entendre (“Empire State of Mind” was one of the tracks that bumped through the speakers while I was in store) that titles the charity challenges others to take action to help those less fortunate while playing on a passion for footwear, something the work of the foundation echoes.
The mission of “Grow A Pair” is to provide underprivileged kids with sneakers, both domestically and internationally. With the help and support of the Babson Study Abroad program, the fellas will be providing footwear to kids in Ghana that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. And they’re looking out for local kids as well.
Those attending the auction will be asked to either donate $5 or a pair of sneakers, a request that shouldn’t be hard to fulfill given the nature of the event.
Sneakers are still the name of the game, so you know that, in addition to being for a righteous cause, everything at the auction is fresh, too. There’s a pair donated by distinguished collector Bobbito Garcia, from his personal collection. Darryl McDaniels (DMC of Run-DMC) signed a pair of adidas that will be up for auction. SLAM contributed a pair of our exclusive adidas sneakers to go along with donations from vitaminTHICK, a Michael Jordan signed ball, a Kobe Bryant signed and framed jersey, an Andre Iguodala signed sneaker and tons more.
Like the store, it should be a sight to behold.
With less than a year since Foot Traffik’s opening, Nguyen, Saygnarath and Campbell have already done big things—ranging from the gear they sell and the relationships that they’ve forged with consigners and other stores to their charity work. Upon graduation in the next year or two, they won’t be juggling the work of a full-time college student with that of a full-time owner and store worker.
Imagine what’ll happen then.
If you’re in the Boston area this weekend, be sure to check Foot Traffik, located at 480 Lincoln Ave in Saugus. The auction is this Saturday, October 17, from 2 – 6 p.m., with food provided by local stores and companies. All proceeds will go directly to “Grow A Pair.”