Chase Reed had about 300 pairs of sneakers in his closet until a few months ago, when he decided to turn his prized collection into a landmark business venture.

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In May, the 16-year-old from Harlem and his father Troy opened Sneaker Pawn USA, the world’s first sneaker pawn shop, which also serves as a spot for anyone with a penchant for kicks to trade, sell, or refurbish their beloved shoes. Chase says he’s excited to take his passion for fashion one step further.

“It was definitely a sacrifice,” Chase tells Ellen’s Good News. “My father gave me an option of doing something long-term or choosing to look fresh today. The long-term goal has always been to build my dreams around sneakers and something that I love.”

How does it work? If you need some extra cash and have a pair of shoes to barter, Troy and Chase will loan you the retail price of your shoes and store them for a $20 monthly fee. You have 90 days to pay them back, plus the fee. Alternately, if you have shoes you want to trade, new or used ones to sell, or if you want your favorite pair cleaned up and customized, they’ll take care of it.

The idea came about one day after Troy stood in line for hours with Chase to buy him a new pair of shoes.

“Chase used to asked me to go stand in sneaker lines with him, and I’d be out there until 12 o’clock at night,” Troy, a 41-year-old documentary filmmaker, recalls. “I used to buy him two pairs of sneakers at a time, so we didn’t have to wait in line again. But when we came home, Chase would have the audacity to ask me for $50-60 to go hang out with his friends after I just spent $400 on shoes. I told him to give me the sneakers, and when he pays me back, he’ll get his shoes back.”

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The ground rule created a spark in the mind of this entrepreneurial teen, and pretty soon, he’ll be making enough money to buy his own shoes. Sneaker Pawn USA has been open for only six weeks, and already got the attention of national news outlets like the New York Post, CBS World News and Bloomberg Television.

Chase begins his junior year in high school this fall, and says he plans to go to college and continue on his path as a bona fide business man.

“I wanna chase my dreams, and sneakers and designers clothes are something I love,” he explains. “Sneakers describe the type of person I am and show the character that I am… so why not take it all and professionalize it into a career I want to do?”

Considering the gigantic sneakerhead community, Chase could really be onto something, as he’s tapped into a universal love and interest.

“It’s an attitude, it’s definitely about the way somebody carries themselves,” Troy adds. “If you see someone with a blazer and a pair of Converse, there’s a certain confidence about that person, a certain swag… it doesn’t matter how old they are or what nationality, and that’s what all sneakerheads shoot for. I might not have a Benz or a Rolex, but I have swagger.”

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