Puffer Reds, the premiere sneaker and apparel boutique of Detroit, has been in business since 1979. But like a lot of stores in Motown, it started out selling something else--records. However, just because the inventory has switched from LPs to high tops doesn't mean its deep culture of dedicated curation has decreased in any way, as Tyler Mopkins, the boutique's buyer, will attest to. "I don't consider myself a collector," Mopkins says. "I consider myself a historian."
History certainly holds a special place in both his heart and that of Puffer Reds. When Ty was a kid, the only version of "high-end shopping" he knew was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sears catalogue, so he and his friends could flip through it, enamored by the pics of all the fly kicks they saw.
Things have obviously changed, for both the sneaker market and for Ty, and he and the rest of the Puffer Reds crew have embraced the use of technology to get the word out about their business. Between the 10 or so employees and the store's account itself, there are roughly 15,000 collective followers on Instagram who are constantly updated on new inventory arrivals. That kind of number is pretty sick for a totally independent establishment, and its payoff shows in how devoted the Puffer Reds following has become.
As for his own tastes, Mopkins does not count himself amongst what he calls the "lineup Saturday" type, named for the conformity-obsessed category of customer who buys every new pair of kicks, no matter what they are. "I buy what I like," Mopkins says. It's that simple. But while Ty may not consider himself a collector, that doesn't mean he doesn't dabble pretty heavily in kicks. (He currently has 450 pairs.)
To Mopkins, though, in Motown, this is all part of life. "This is Detroit," he says. "All day, every day."
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