Packer Shoes started in Yonkers, N.Y. in 1907. For those of you who despise arithmetic, that's 106 years ago. The store remained there for 95 years, until Mike Packer, the store's current owner, decided to relocate to Teaneck, N.J.. It was a fortuitous move, as that was right at the beginning of the sneaker boutique boom. And while sneakerheads often assert that L.A. and NYC are the country's footwear epicenters, Packer feels that the best move for boutique owners is to try and reach underserved areas. "If you have a good shoe," he says, "if you can bring that market to someplace, you have the customer."
For Packer, there's an art to selecting those shoes. He doesn't just stock his inventory, he "curates" it. "From day one," he says, "we've always wanted to try and be more diverse" about the brands the store carries, while at the same time making sure to bring in "the best of the best" of heritage models. As far as the sneaker culture itself, Packer feels like it's experiencing a renaissance of sorts. The fact that today's footwear fans are shunning conformity for originality hearkens back to a time when people wore the kicks they wore "because they wanted to be different."
One thing's for sure: you can't get more independent than 106 years in the sneaker business. For more on Mike Packer and Packer Shoes, be sure to watch Episode 9 of FILA's Rise of the Independents above.