Sneaker collecting’s allure goes beyond rocking fresh kicks. Copping limited edition Yeezys or Air Jordans is about the challenge. The shoe is simply a trophy.
But Cleveland sneakerheads have a new game to play at the Restock, a Joe Haden-owned menswear shop downtown, and it doesn’t include waiting in line or scouring the internet.
Among the racks of rare streetwear finds sits the Key Master, an arcade game ubiquitous in malls that typically spits out gift cards and off-brand MP3 players. Restock’s Key Master, however, awards some of the sneaker world’s most elusive prizes.
Stocked with shoes that range from $500 to more than $1,000, the $5-a-turn machine might seem too good to be true. But that’ll change when you actually try it, says David VanGieson, a buyer at Restock. To win, contestants must position a golden key to fit a rectangular hole, which knocks down sneakers such as Adidas NMDs and Don C Air Jordans. “It’s very difficult to win,” he says. “There’s only one perfect spot.”
Difficult, yes. But not impossible. VanGieson says there’s a winner about once every two weeks. Most players spend between $5 and $20, while some shell out upward of $200 — which is still less than the price tag on some much-less-rare LeBrons. A sneaker won through the machine can also be traded in for store credit if you don’t want to sport those self-lacing Nike HyperAdapt 1.0s.
Whether you’re a sneakerhead or a wearer of old, beat-up Converse, the opportunity to score one of the world’s most sought-after sneakers for a fraction of the price is hard to resist.
“You’re throwing a couple dollars away, maybe,” VanGieson says. “You have a chance of winning a shoe that you’re not going to see anyone else wear.”