People in the village of Rockville Centre, Long Island, were not used to seeing lines outside of stores on the sidewalk in the middle of the day. It was an unusual sight, unlike the normal weekend crowds spilling out of the bars onto the streets. I knew a lot of people from having lived there for so long and many were wondering what I was doing outside a sneaker store in my collapsible chair in the middle of a Friday afternoon. The general reaction was a shaking of the head, a muttering of “only you,” and a major sense of disbelief. The only one who really got it was Tom, our longtime mailman, who had known my son Ben (who is a sneakers social media editor who’s been working at Complex for two years) and I since Ben was in first grade, and knew that I was just that kind of mom. He stopped by at least three times before the end of his shift to bring me a Dunkin’ and Ben water.
It was early 2010, and my 16-year-old son was right smack in the middle of his Jordan obsession. He would follow new releases religiously and was able to buy a bunch of them. I was always involved with Ben’s sneaker shopping, not only because I found it fascinating, but I was also the transportation to the different stores we frequented. We lived in Rockville Centre, right around the corner from sneaker boutique Extra Butter and became well-known in the shop. Ben and I would pop in regularly to see what was new and what he needed to buy.
When Ben and I saw the upcoming release of the Air Jordan 13 Bin 23, we both became obsessed. Ben had to have that sneaker. We haunted Extra Butter trying to get as much information as we could regarding availability and the way they were going to handle the release. Extra Butter founders Russ Furchak and Jason Faustino gave us as much info as they could, but details still needed to be firmed up.
On Thursday, Aug. 19, I went to the store, and Furchak told me that there were going to be tickets given out to the first however many people there was enough stock for. They were going to start selling at 10:30 a.m. that Saturday. They also told me that they weren’t going to have Ben’s size available, but I didn’t care. I went back to Extra Butter Friday at noon and became one of the first people on line.
I reached out to Faustino to talk about his recollections of the night. He told me that he and Furchak knew that in order to be successful in Rockville Centre, they had to get moms on their side. Not necessarily camping-out-overnight moms, but the moms who would bring their kids in to buy the latest shoes.
I pulled out my collapsible chair and parked myself outside on the sidewalk. I called Ben, who came and joined me immediately. Since we were two people, they begrudgingly gave us two tickets. That’s when the fun started.
Faustino said that they knew that the release of this Bin 23 was going to be huge, like those of the other Bin 23 releases and other high profile drops like the first Levi’s x Air Jordan 1 and the “Jones Beach” Air Force 1.
“Me and Russ felt comfortable leaving the shop overnight because you were on line,” Faustino tells me now. “And it wasn’t just a regular mom, we knew you well and felt that we had the better version of a mall cop out there.”
Speaking to the former owner reminded me that Furchak even gave me his phone number to call him if the situation got out of hand.
Several people I knew passed by the store and asked me what I was doing. They could not believe that I was waiting on the sidewalk for a pair of sneakers that weren’t even going on sale until the next day. A few more people joined the line later in the day, and by closing time, there were about 15 of us waiting. Later in the evening, the real sneakerheads came out. People from all over Long Island and the city were stopping by to check out the situation. They had heard that there was a mom on line waiting to buy the sneakers, and they had to see it for themselves. It was even on Twitter. I was trying to make deals with some of these guys for Ben’s size 12s. I would buy them whatever size they needed if they would buy his size.
There was one guy in particular who was the organizer for a group of buyers at different places in Manhattan. He said he would definitely help us out and have someone get the size 12s. I was going to buy him size 10s in exchange. Now remember, we had two tickets, so Ben and I were going to be able to buy a second pair. We also made a deal to buy a size 9 for someone else, who was going to pay twice retail for them.
During my wait, knowing I couldn’t leave the line, our mailman actually had food delivered to us on the line from a local deli. There were many Dunkin’ runs by friends of mine and Ben’s. One of the loss prevention detectives at the company I worked for was concerned about me being out all night waiting to buy sneakers and kept calling to check on me.
By midnight, the line was about 25 people long, and it was getting really chilly. A guy who was fifth on line went home to sleep and asked that we save his place till the morning. We did not. Ben and I took turns sitting in my car, which was parked right outside the store. More and more people came as the night went on, many of them coming by just to see if the mom on line was really there.
“With a sneaker release that big you’re always worried about fights and things like that, but we trusted that with you there, there wouldn’t be anything other than the usual drinking and smoking,” Faustino says. “All we really heard about was people trying to get back in line after leaving.”
The night was really crawling along, and I realized I had been on the sidewalk in my little collapsible chair for 15 hours. Those of us on line had formed a camaraderie and were telling stories of our sneaker hunts. We were having great conversations at 3 a.m.
Ben and I went on many shopping trips, but there was one day in particular that stood out. Ben was working at Dunkin’ at the time, and he had about $700 saved up. We were on a mission, going from store to store to see what we could spend all of his savings on. That day alone Ben got the Air Jordan 5 “Raging Bull” pack, the Air Jordan 7 “60+ Pack,” and several other single pairs.
There was a store in Hempstead, Long Island called Street Gear. They were known to have a great selection, so we went to see what we could find. There were always two huge menacing bouncers at the door, and we walked past them to shop. Ben found a couple of older shoes that he bought, but then there were the “Forest Green” Jordan 14s. As we were walking to the register, I noticed the owner looking inside the box. We paid and left, but when we got to the next store, Ben looked into the box and noticed the retro card was missing. Nope. Not happening on my watch.
I called the store, spoke to the owner, who initially denied taking it, and I told him I would be back in 10 minutes to get my retro card and he’d better have it. When I approached the store, one of the bouncers came to me with the card in hand and gave me a little wink. I guess people didn’t mess with his boss very often. My favorite hunt was for the “Laser” Jordan 5s. I saw them and fell in love. I searched forever, and finally found a guy who not only had them in Ben’s size, but he also had the original receipt. They had not been touched, and he shipped them to us in the Foot Locker bag they came in. I was really happy with myself for that one.
Around 5 a.m., back at the Extra Butter lineup, things started picking up again, with around 40 people on line, and more still coming in from the city to try and make deals. At 6 a.m., the early morning quiet was shattered by a huge black Jeep Cherokee blaring music with its roof-mounted spotlights shining right on the line. It was the loss prevention detective coming to check on me, making sure that the mom on line was OK.
The night was long and chilly, but definitely not boring. Different groups of Ben’s friends came by at different times, all with different comments of course. A couple of my friends came by to see if I needed anything, and of course there were the food deliveries that kept showing up. The night air was filled with the scents of pizza, Chinese food, and a favorite of ours, Mexican from The First Tortilla Grill. Music was kept low, as a couple of policemen had come by to talk to me about it, assuming that I was in charge. Between the food deliveries, the line-keeping, and telling the people who came from the city that the mom rumor was true, that yes, I was the mom, the night passed quickly. Deals were made, size needs were firmed up, and the group was happy.
Finally, finally, after 22 ½ hours of waiting on line, Furchak and Faustino came to open the store and start selling. It was our turn very quickly, and Ben and I bought our two pairs of the most gorgeous sneaker I had ever seen, the Air Jordan 13 Bin 23s. The people we had made deals with were already there, waiting to make the size exchange and buy our second pair.
I met some really cool people waiting on line and had a great time doing it. I loved the attention I got being the mom who waited almost 24 hours to buy a Jordan release. The sneaker community is a very unique one, and, until that night, this mom was not a part of it.