In the big bowl of soup that is all things wanted and sought, there is eBay, which is where real sneaker freaks go to pay markup.
A pair of Pigeon Dunks sold there for $1,000. The shoes, named in tribute to the New York street pigeon, are cement gray with a white swoosh and a pigeon on the heel. Yellow-and-black Wu-Tang Dunks hover around $750. Pro Zoo York Dunks can fetch as much $1,200, and Paris Dunks can range from $700 to $1,700 a pair.
Ian Callender, 23, has dozens of Nike Dunk SB sneakers in his collection of vintage basketball shoes. Pictured with his babies at his home in Mitchellville, he has parted with some of the shoes on eBay.
(Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
"It makes me mad," says Callender. "I mean the way that sneaker collecting should be done is like, you buy two pairs, one to wear and one to keep in the box. But because people know that they can sell them on eBay for crazy prices, most boutiques only let you get one pair."
"We have all been suckered into this craze in one way or another," says Christina Coleman, 25, Callender's girlfriend, standing in his kitchen. She was late for the photo shoot after going to the Adidas store in Georgetown to get the new Roc-a-fella shell toes for Ian. Arriving an hour before the store opened, she was 10th in line.
"Everybody there was talking about shoes in this sneaker lingo," Coleman says. "It was like living in a foreign country." (Deadstock, by the way, means a foot has never been inside the shoe. F.O.T.B. means fresh out of the box.)
Coleman puts the box on the table. Ian's mom, Desiree, leans over her shoulder.
"How much were those?" she asks.
"$159 with tax," Coleman answers.
"Oh, those are cheap," Mom says. "I used to get real angry with him because that is a lot of money to spend on shoes. . . . My focus has always been academics, and at first I thought it was just a hobby. Then he started calling from school, 'Mom, is there a package there for me?' Then I knew it was serious."
Says Dad, Lennox Callender: "Every time the UPS truck pulls up, I know that the neighbors wonder, 'What kind of business are they into?' "
But Callender's folks can't be that mad -- his shoe addiction has brought them some shine. During Ian's senior year, his parents played the role of restaurant customers in a sneaker skit for the Drexel fashion show. "We were at a table and the waiter comes over carrying a tray with sneakers on it," Lennox says.
The whole craze amazes him. "I am 50 years old and I have never seen anything like this," he says.
Last year his son went to Manhattan to get the N.E.R.D artist-series Dunks. The plan was simple: Go up, hang out for New Year's, do an early-eve drive-by at Niketown on Jan. 2 to scope out a good location up front, then creep back down later that night when most normal folks would be sleeping, secure the good spot, and, when the store opened Jan. 3, get the shoes and roll out.
"When we drove by that night, there were 50 people in line," Ian says. "So we just parked and got in line."