2nd Floor infront of Nordstrom
Taking a stroll through the mall is generally not the route of choice for sneakerheads, but if you are from Houston and are addicted to kicks, you may soon find that one store in the Galleria Mall may change the way you buy sneakers.
Kickz is a store like none other. Normally when you think of spots in the malls, you think of corporate run cookie cutter stores, commission driven sales people, shoe spray hustling, and discounts available on EVERY shoe except the ones you actually want. Kickz is nothing like that, period.
Kickz has all of the goods sneakerheads want. Some of the lines in store include Jordan Lifestyle, Urban Indie, Urban Energy, Nike Quickstrike, Adidas Select, Adidas Originals, Puma Lifestyle, and New Balance Classics.
While we were in store, we got to speak to the owner of Kickz, as well as 7 other Houston area sneaker shops, Ray Odom.
Matt – Nice Kicks: Other than a love or obsession for sneakers, what got you interested in opening up sneaker stores?
Ray – Kickz: Well, I have a friend from Atlanta who owned several Athletes Foot franchise stores and he took a unique approach of opening the stores in more urban areas and focused the store more towards what people in the neighborhood would want rather than the usual mold that Athletes Foot had. He made the stores more about Air Force Ones and whatever the people wanted. At the time he had 16 stores across Atlanta so obviously he was doing something that was working and at the time there really weren’t any stores around Houston that focused on what people from the urban areas really wanted.
Matt: So when did you open up your first shop and which shop was it?
Ray: The first store I opened up was in March of 2002 at Fondren and West Bellfort. I was really fortunate that my rep was able to help me open up with Air Jordan and Air Force Ones.
Matt: How did you happen into so many other stores?
Ray: Athletes Foot ran into some financial troubles and they were looking for a buyer for the Athletes Foot and Sports Wrap stores they had across the Houston area. I am grateful for the opportunity, but it has been a long project. It was really like one of those house flipping shows on TV because the stores had a bad reputation with customers and were not carrying what people wanted. Since buying the stores we have been working day in and day out to build back repor and relationship with the customers to make the stores successful.
Matt: Why Kickz? Where did you get the idea from?
Ray: I wanted to do something completely original. My goal was to create the first sneaker boutique based in a mall. Houston is still terribly underdeveloped sneaker wise and I wanted to make a shop that carried the elite product that sneaker heads want. Already I took the Athletes Foot shops to be less “corporate” and I wanted to make Kickz another step to making it a boutique.
Matt: When did Kickz open up?
Ray: We opened up at midnight for the release of the Grapes. September 30th I believe it was.
Matt: I’m guessing you didn’t have a problem with getting people in for that…
Ray: Nope! We were out by 12:30, maybe even earlier.
Matt: Looking back, what shoes were you hooked to?
Ray: The first Air Jordans did it for me. I have the Jordan I Black/Red and had the matching jacket and pants too. I am still a huge fan of the early Air Jordans still to this day.
Matt: Any others you were into?
Ray: I was really feeling the Air Maxes. I had the Air Max 1, Air 180 as well. Overall I think the Air Max 95 was the best Air Max shoes comfort wise. I am also big into Air Force Ones – can never go wrong with those.
Matt: When did you know that your hobby was more of an addiction?
Ray: When I first saw the Air Jordan 2’s I actually bought them off the feet of a friend. I had a friend who played in the NBA and got them REALLY early. I just loved the concept of having the kicks and just blowing people’s minds when I would wear them. I went over to Germany with them and turned heads everywhere since the people there had no idea what in the world they were.
Matt: Back to Kickz, what are some things we can expect to see happen in store?
Ray: We are doing something you couldn’t imagine for the Air Force 25 Project. We are going over the top with a huge build out to literally turn the store into an Air Force 1 museum. We are going to do alot of in store stuff for the 25th Anniversary of the Air Force Ones so stay tuned!
Matt: Who have helped you out along the way that you would like to thank?
Ray: A lot of people have given me help and support during the whole journey. I’d like to thank my wife Erica, my brother Kevin, my sister Allison, my parents Don and Rose, manager of the shop Shane.
For any of your from Houston or taking a trip down to H-town, make sure you add Kickz to your list of shops to check out. The Galleria Mall is amazing in and of itself, but this store stands out even in this premier mall.
Other stores in the Kickz family include:
Fondren & West Bellfort