Scattered across the gym floor — a replica of the Miami Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena — is the soul of the Peters family.
Actually, make that the soles of the family.
There’s the never-worn 1985 Air Jordans, the pristine 2008 Kanye West Air Yeezys and 6,000 others from vintage Pumas and Converse All-Stars to rare Nikes and Adidas “kicks” as they say in the sneaker biz.
Foot Locker would be jealous.
Sneakers for the Peters family aren’t just rubber sole shoes worn to protect your feet.
They are works of art. No different from masterpieces created by Picasso, Monet or Michelangelo.
Sneakers, you see, represent a lifestyle, a form of expression, a statement.
And they’re bringing that prized collection into an innovative, interactive sneaker store they plan to open later this year in a now vacant, 3,500-square-foot space in downtown Lake Worth on 605 Lake Avenue.
“It’s more than just a sneaker to us,” says Ariana Peters, managing partner of Peters Development , a commercial property development firm that owns more than 25 properties in and around Lake Worth.
Ariana can thank her father, Doug and late mom, Gabriela, for her sneaker passion. Doug, who started Peters Development and is now retired, was an avid basketball player. And Gabriela, killed in a car accident 14 years ago, was an ardent runner.
The Peters wore sneakers as often as they put on clothes.
About 25 years the ago, the couple started collecting sneakers as a hobby.
“Some people collect art, G.I. Joes or Barbie dolls, but we loved the construction of the sneaker, the purpose of the shoe, the branding,” Doug says.
The collection, which includes rare Nikes, Adidas, Pumas, Jordans, grew to more than 5,000 when Doug finally turned it over to his daughters, Ariana, 23, Dresden, 21 and Dakota, 17, five years ago.
Now that collection is more than 6,000 strong. For years, the sneakers were kept in the family’s sprawling Boca Raton home.
$85,000 vault will be sneaker safeguard
But the Peters girls, who look like younger — and smarter Kardashians and who call themselves “Chicks With Kicks” — had a better idea after posting Instagram pictures of the sneakers and saw their followers skyrocket.
The sisters are turning that prized collection into an innovative, interactive sneaker store they plan to open this year downtown.
The entire vintage collection, which the Peters say is the largest in the world, will be up for sale. The sneakers range in price from $100 for a basic pair to the rare sneaks that can cost as much as a new BMW 3 Series car — about $40,000.
But the Peters’ new venture will be a lot more than your run-of-the-mill sneaker store at the mall.
The store will sell new and used sneakers. It will boast a restoration service where customers can have their favorite Adidas made famous by Run-DMC in the ’80s repaired like new. An al la carte menu of restoration services will be offered, with a specialization in vintage sneakers.
The Peters are spending $85,000 on a Wells Fargo-like walk-in bank vault —yes, a real life bank vault! — that will be placed in the back of the store and where a few hundred of the rarest and most expensive sneakers will be housed and available for purchase by appointment only.
“This is not a little safe you buy from Costco,” says Chase Peters, 18, who is handling construction.
The store will also be tricked out with cameras so customers, for a nominal fee, can log into the store’s website to check the inventory and what’s going 24/7.
Think Big Brother, but with sneakers.
“It’ll be like a museum experience,” says Ariana. “You don’t have to be in Lake Worth and we think it’ll be a great draw for the town.”
Sneaker boom skyrocketed in 2004
A weekly video featuring the Peters sisters talking about a different sneaker will be filmed in the vault room and available to subscribers.
Analysts are impressed by the concept.
“Millennials are willing to spend a premium on shoes and they drive the market,” says Clay Craft, a retail development director at Retail Strategies, an Alabama-based company that specializes in retail recruitment and which recently worked with Lake Worth for its “Destination Lake Worth” event to showcase the city to potential investors.
According to Craft, millennials spent $21 billion on footwear in 2014.
Craft said the estimated market value of the apparel and footwear business in the United States is about $359 billion, a jump from $310 billion in 2011.
Forbes magazine reported last year that the market for sneakers is booming and has grown more than 40 percent since 2004 to an estimated $55 billion.
Rebel Cook, president of The Economic Forum of Palm Beach County, a think tank for economic researchers and international business leaders, said the sisters have a unique concept that could work.
“The whole retail market is changing and stores that used to do well don’t do as well any more because shoppers are going online,” Cook said, referencing Macy’s, which recently announced it was closing 68 stores, including the one at CityPlace . “But a concept like this is so unique. customers may want to go there.”
Cook said the store’s interactive component could make it a destination business.
“That’s really interesting since people are using their electronic devices to do things they used to do in person,” Cook said.
Sisters all play pivotal roles in company
There’s even a sneaker stock market. StockX is a live marketplace that offers a price guide for buying and selling sneakers. A pair of Jordan 4 Retro Eminem Carhartt recently sold for more than $25,000.
Pop stars, hip-hop artists, sports stars are all getting in on the action with their own line of sneakers whether it’s Kanye West with his Yeezys or LeBron James hawking a pair of his retro Nikes.
You can almost feel the anticipation the Peters sisters have about the new store.
“We look forward to becoming a part of this marketplace and, more importantly, bringing it to Lake Worth,” Ariana says.
Dawn Puccio is the manager at Kokonuts, a resort wear shop next door to where the Peters sisters plan to open their store. She says she welcomes the new business.
“The more shops downtown the better,” Puccio says. “I just wish it were a high-end shoe store because people are desperately looking for that.”
The Peters sisters are spending $700,000 for the space at 603-605 Lake Avenue, Ariana says. The family expects to close by the end of July with construction work to begin shortly thereafter.
There will be a complete building renovation, Ariana says.
The family will install new security glass and doors, a night vision security system, a new facade as well as new floors for the inside of the store.
Store improvements will cost about $250,000, Ariana says.
The sisters have settled on a store name, but Ariana says she can’t disclose it because the family is still in the middle of negotiating trademark rights.
Each sister has a designated role. While Ariana oversees the company and is its spokesperson, Dresden handles all the buying and Dakota is in charge of the company’s online presence and social media.
“We all feel like we play a pivotal role,” Ariana says.
Their brother, Chase, will not be involved in the business.
“I let them keep the sneakers,” he says, laughing, “I kept all my dad’s cars.”
For the most part, the family has refused to sell the sneakers, even when it had offers of more than $10,000 for new, still in the box, Nike Air Jordan 1’s from 1985.
“There’s not a day goes by that where a least 20 people contact us about buying the sneakers,” Chase says.
Some of the sneakers do have sentimental value, like the running shoes that were given to the cast of HBO’s “Sex and the City.”
Ariana says her mom loved those.
But, this is a business. No one knows this better than the Peters sisters, mature beyond their years and who have an uncanny entrepreneurial savvy you don’t always find in people so young.
“It’s not hard for these ladies to sell this collection,” Chase says. “They have plenty of things they’d like to do with the money.”