With gray walls, high ceilings and thoughtfully placed works, Ohio City's Xhibition feels like a gallery. But the art here isn't paint on canvas. It's the store's selection of hip clothing, products such as lotions, books and magazines, and exclusive, hard-to-find sneakers that draw crowds.
Take the hotly anticipated March launch of the Kanye West-designed Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost.
As the only store in Ohio selling the gray suede high-tops — and with only nine pairs at that — Xhibition used a raffle to determine who could purchase the sneakers. "There was about as many people as we can fit in here," owner Robert Rosenthal recalls. "The demand was just crazy."
Rosenthal opened Xhibition in October to capitalize on Cleveland's resurgence and lure luxury menswear designers from New York City and Los Angeles. "Cleveland has become a cool place to be in a lot of respects," he says.
The store oozes hip. Black furniture pieces have mirrored sides — giving shoppers a chance to scope out new shoes on their feet. Tables are draped with textured T-shirts from John Elliot ($94) or cream-colored short-sleeved hoodies from Tackma ($178).
Sales of LeBron James' most recent signature shoe, the Nike LeBron 12 ($200-$250), have been on fire. As have the Tackma pieces. The New York-based brand was founded in Ohio and counts James among ardent supporters. The store's most popular item this spring was an adjustable hat with Tackma's T-shaped lightning logo that James wore during some post-playoff game press conferences.
"It's all about that star power," Rosenthal says. "Now we can't keep the product in stock."
When You Go: Xhibition 2068 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-298-4770, xhibition.co
NEARBY FIND: Roll down to Joy Machines Bike Shop to scope out the latest in two-wheel transportation. 1836 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-394-0230, joymachines.net
FRESH AND CLEAN
†Nothing can ruin a casual Friday like your jeans bleeding blue onto your clean white sneaks. Steve Silver, Xhibition's sneaker buyer, recommends using Jason Markk's Repel, which builds a protective barrier to keep shoes stain-free. "Spray on one coat, let it dry for 10 minutes," Silver says. "Spray on another coat, and then the trick is to use a blow dryer and dry that last coat."
†A fresh pair of the newest Air Jordans or trendy Adidas running shoe can cost anywhere from $160 to $250. "That starts to add up if you're collecting," Silver says. To keep your investments kicking, store shoes in the original box. Reuse the tissue paper stuffed into the toes to preserve their shape.