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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

"It's fun at first, but then it starts to get old," he said. "I never really liked going out all that much, anyway, but I was like, 'There's really nothing to do now.?

Watching hour after hour of "Grey's Anatomy," he said with a grin, started to seem reasonable.

So many children and teens have struggled to adjust and to stay on track during the pandemic, Johnson said. She's thrilled that Antonio, who has a supportive family and keen interests, found ways to thrive.

She worries about those who face a bumpier path.

McNeil said "Miss Reese" – as the kids at Directions for Youth and Families refer to Johnson – works hard to show them possibility.

"If it weren't for the program being there, I don't know if he would be this deep into it," McNeil said of her son's sneaker business.


Antonio also loves to cook - his family says his shrimp alfredo is amazing - and he wants to attend culinary school. Restoring sneakers "could be a good hustle for college," Johnson said. "His mom is big on saving."

Still, Antonio thought he could perhaps sneak one past his mom and get her to sign off on a new pair of "school shoes." She reminded him that he'll be learning from home for at least the next several weeks.

McNeil also noted the north-of-$200 price tag. "Nice try, Antonio."

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