Two friends have opened their dream sneaker store in Chicago. It has been robbed 4 times in 2 years

TRI-TAYLOR – Childhood friends opened an upscale sneaker store in a Maywood home, turning it into a store they dubbed Flee Club.

The store at 2221 W. Taylor St. has been robbed four times in the past two years. Although this hurts the owners’ bottom line, they said they are not giving up on their dream.

The latest burglary happened around 3:30 a.m. Friday. People broke into the Flee Club, taking rare Jordan sneakers, Yeezys and Gallery Dept jeans and jackets. The burglars got away with about $40,000 in merchandise, said Flee Club co-owners Sabrian “Boo” Sledge and Darris “Gem Shoe” Kelly.

ABC7 was the first to report the latest burglary

Kelly said the store was not covered by insurance because their business had abandoned the Flee Club due to previous burglaries. Owners will have to swallow the losses, he said.

Despite this, Flee Club replaced its glass and opened on Saturday.

“You have to,” Sledge said.

“You gotta show them, man,” Kelly said. “We don’t stop.”

Credit: Courtesy of Sabrian “Boo” Sledge

Kelly and Sledge said their company is known for its high-end sneakers and designer streetwear – and for catering to celebrities, having sold to Chicago Bulls Patrick Williams and Derrick Jones Jr., as well as rappers Fabulous and Polo G.

Owners spend “somewhere in the six figures” on security each year, using armed guards, locks, sirens and burglar alarms, they said. They moved to Taylor Street because they hoped it would be safer after their original location near the United Center was burgled, Kelly said.

Sledge said no one has been charged with the burglaries.

“It could be Fort Knox, and they just have to get a car in,” Sledge said.

Kelly said he regularly hunts down limited-edition sneakers and apparel, sending people out of state to buy them for the store. Labor and upfront purchase costs are heavy for a small business without a large bank account or partnerships with luxury brands, Kelly said.

“I just found out that people are going to target me,” Kelly said. “They’re going to target me wherever I go in this city because I have the hottest items.”

The lost $40,000 will be a “big hit,” Sledge said.

“Think of what 40K can do for you. And it’s still the pandemic,” Sledge said. to get them. You have to build relationships. We want big companies to know that they can trust us.

Credit: Michael Hicks Jr./Supplied
Sabrian Sledge shows LaVar Ball the inventory of Flee Club sneakers. Sledge started the business eight years ago at his friend’s house in Maywood.

The Flee Club hosted basketball star LaVar Ball’s Big Baller Brand pop-up in November. Sledge and Kelly gave Ball a tour of their inventory room, showing him the work they “built from home,” Sledge said. Ball told Sledge he was proud to see black men creating their own brand.

Terrance Wills, owner of neighboring Razor Red Grooming Solutions, said Sledge and Kelly have always been “community guys”. The sneaker duo hosted backpack giveaways, provided free toys at Christmas and sponsored an AAU basketball team, Wills said.

“As a business owner, I see the hard work they put in. They take over their social media, provide their inventory, keep the place clean. It’s a lot of work,” Wills said. “Seeing someone even break a window hurts.

“You have to be a good businessman in this city because you’re going to meet adversity.”

Sledge said he was shaken but not discouraged.

“It’s just disappointing, more than anything. Knowing the guys we’re trying to be, trying to serve the community, the culture, everything,” Sledge said. “We have employees that we help. We can’t save the neighborhood, but we can change lives, one by one.

Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
Darris “Gem Shoe” Kelly walks through his inventory room where thieves stole approximately $40,000 worth of Jordan, Yeezy and designer apparel.

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Luz W. German