With aspirations to level up from their online shoe resales, business partners and co-owners Anthony Wahquah and Riley Henley set their eyes on opening a physical store in their hometown of Lawrence.
Wahquah, 19, and Henley, 20, opened Soled Out LK on Oct. 23, reaching their goal of owning a shoe store by age 21 with time to spare.
Located at 1025 B Massachusetts St., Soled Out LK offers new and slightly used high-end sneakers, such as Jordans, Yeezys, Nikes and more. The store also has a wide selection of vintage clothing as well as baseball, basketball and football cards for sale.
Wahquah and Henley already had the dream. Once they secured the building and painted the walls white, they had the perfect foundation for their vision. The risk proved to pay off after the support they received from friends and community members.
“When we first opened the store we wouldn’t have imagined that we would make $10,000 on opening day and hit $50,000 [in sales] in the first month,” Henley said.
Soled Out LK is a unique addition to Lawrence as the city has yet to see a store of its kind. Wahquah and Henley feel they have a solid demographic to market to with Lawrence being home to the University of Kansas (KU) and two 6A high schools.
“Lawrence is growing so fast and sneaker culture is rapidly gaining popularity,” Henley said. “Soled Out is all about providing the drip that people want.”
Wahquah and Henley have experience in entrepreneurship as the two had been reselling sneakers through social media for two years prior to opening Soled Out LK. With a physical store now, they consider themselves store owners rather than resellers, and their customer base has only expanded.
Denny Nguyen has been a longtime follower of Wahquah’s reselling account on Instagram, @kicksbytwo, buying shoes from him for more than a year before Soled Out LK opened. When he heard the news of the opening, he was excited to take his business to a physical store.
“[Wahquah and Henley] are really amazing people to do business with,” Nguyen said. “They are great guys to talk with and really helpful. Also they are nice and loyal to me and I’m trying my best to support shops here in Lawrence that are local.”
Inventory is accumulated in a variety of ways. Wahquah and Henley attend shoe events and form relationships with vendors who have connections with people who work at factories. They also buy from individual resellers and people with used shoe collections. Strategically buying is vital as they take pride in having the latest styles and trends available to customers.
After obtaining items they want to sell in-store, they have to price each item individually and run it through the Point of Sale (POS) system.
Wahquah and Henley said Soled Out LK has items for great prices and customers are able to avoid extra fees that larger reseller stores require, such as legit checking. Legit checking is done to ensure a product is authentic.
“We legit check for free and shipping is much cheaper if people want items shipped to them,” Wahquah said. “What’s good about shopping with us is you get to avoid a lot of fees and processing time and you get it straight from the seller.”
Owning a business has not been easy in the slightest, but they have put faith into themselves. Wahquah emphasized the importance of remaining humble and never settling.
“This is just a stepping stone,” Wahquah said. “When people tell us congratulations we appreciate it, but we never want to stay comfortable.”
They understand they still have aspects to improve upon as the store has only been open for two and a half months. Some updates they plan on making by summer include a sliding ladder for themselves and customers to check out shoes, paintings and signs to fill the walls, more shelves and Kaws dolls placed around as collector’s items.
Along with in-store additions, they would like to improve on their marketing tactics, like communicating with community members and increasing their following on social media. In the next few years, they see Soled Out expanding into more stores in various locations and not only gaining capital but helping those around them succeed, too.
“We love Lawrence. If we make it big, we’re going to give back to our community because it gave so much to us,” Henley said.
The store is open from noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Those with shoe collections, vintage clothing collections, gently used shoes and more can inquire about selling or trading in their items at Soled Out LK via Instagram direct message or in-store.
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.
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