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Sneaker Exit, one of the biggest sneaker events, is in West Palm Beach

Customers looking to buy, sell, trade or catch up on trends in sneakers – high-tops, kicks, sneaks, pumps, trainers to those in the know – are expected at The Sneaker Exit on Sunday om West Palm Beach.

“Star Wars, Spider Man, Yellow Submarine — you can’t find sneakers with those designs at regular footwear stores. There’s a uniqueness at these shows that is exciting,” said Keith Davis, a West Palm Beach attorney known for his kaleidoscopic sneaker collection and bow ties. 

Davis, 55, plans on attending the Palm Beach County Convention Center show. The owner of at least three dozen pairs of designer sneakers is general counsel for seven Palm Beach County communities including Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan and Tequesta.

“When I show up at municipal meetings without my sneakers, everybody asks me about it. I created a monster,” said Davis, whose favorite sneaker is the Vans brand. 

Get your kicks and more at the 2022 Sneaker Exit event

Some of the sneakers that were on display at a recent trade show in Charlotte, N.C.

Not only can customers buy sneakers at Sunday’s event, they can trade and sell. 

“The sneaker business is booming. Buyers of valuable sneakers can expect a 20% to 30% increase in value in a couple years of sneakers that are hot,” said Tamara Carson, partnership manager with the Atlanta-based company started six years ago. 

Sports shoe enthusiasts — known as “sneaker heads” — helped the U.S. sneaker industry rake in roughly $70 billion in 2020. The industry is set to reach $102 billion by 2025. 

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Nationwide sales have been strong over the past several years, according to consumer research groups such as Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group and Statista, an international market and research company.

Why this sneaker event is so popular

Sunday’s trade show, the fifth one The Sneaker Exit has held in West Palm Beach, is expected to draw between 800 to 1,500 people. Masks are required for all attendees. The Atlanta-based company held 17 shows nationwide last year. They expect to do about 22 shows this year, said Carson. 

“There’s tremendous hyper growth. Manufacturers only make so many sneakers. People are willing to pay an elevated price,” Carson said.

The Jordan 11 Retro 2000 Columbia was on display at a recent trade show in Charlotte, N.C. The Columbia 11 was Michael Jordan's 1996 All-Star Game shoe.

As COVID boosted the numbers of Americans working from home, sneaker sales boomed. Hiking and walking shoe sales, as well as sneaker sales, increased nearly 50 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Statista. 

Sneaker heads are not just teenagers, musicians, designers and footwear entrepreneurs, said Carson. 

“Sneakers are more popular with everybody. Business people like to wear them with blazers,” said Carson. 

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