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Columbus teen builds sneaker restoration business amid pandemic

By Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) on

Published in Fashion Daily News

With nudges and encouragement from his family and from Johnson, Antonio shrugged off the coronavirus blues (and the TV) and set about becoming an entrepreneur.

His sneaker-restoration business, marketed online via @kicksbytone _, hums along in the basement of his family's East Side home.

"He has real customers and real orders," Johnson said. "I'm proud of him. He has so much potential."

Antonio offers light cleaning and deep cleaning of sneakers, removing scuffs and stains and debris from shoes so that they look brand new, whether for wear or collecting. A light cleaning typically costs his customers about $20, and it's about $25 for the deep clean.

He "re-ices" the soles of beloved Jordans and Yeezys in a UV light box. Sometimes, he applies new colors and designs with acrylic leather paint.

Finished products are neatly shrink-wrapped and tagged.


"I use social media, I go to thrift stores," Antonio said. "I want to get bigger." Sometimes his thrift store finds turn up worn sneakers that he then restores to sell.

His pace already has surprised his parents and older sister. "We'd come home and see this line of cars," McNeil said, laughing. "I thought, 'What's going on?' They were Antonio's customers, dropping off and picking up shoes."

The life skills and lessons that go along with running even a tiny business at a tender age are obvious, Johnson said. "It teaches accountability. If he says you're going to get your shoes in 14 days, well, then, you're going to want your shoes."

Antonio said he wasn't upset when Metro, which is on Columbus' Northwest Side, shifted to remote learning until at least into October. But as the weeks dragged on, he felt his mood change.


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