The best independent sneaker stores in NYC

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Alife Rivington Club

Alife Rivington Club Photograph: Stephanie Gussin

RECOMMENDED: Best shops in NYC


Premium Laces

  • Price band: 4/4

If retro Nikes like the Ken Griffey Trainer or Nike Air Penny 2 Retro make you weak in the knees, Premium Laces could induce seizure. The sleek, glass-shelved shop really caters to shoeheads in the know—people who need a pair of the new Nike Airforce 1 Low Supreme for a cool $2,500.

  1. 68 Spring St, (between Crosby and Lafayette Sts)
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Alife Rivington Club

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

At Alife, every shoe is special enough to have its own wooden cubby—a dark-wood setting for embossed leathers, and satin trimmings. The long, narrow shop is one of the few stores in North America to get shipments of the most sought-after, least produced Nikes in the world. Take a seat on the long leather couch and sample shoes from the Alife line, which run from $60 to $120 for a pair.

  1. 158 Rivington St, (between Clinton and Suffolk Sts)
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DQM

Festooned like an old-school butcher shop, DQM greets you with shoes hanging from meat cleavers and apparel draped over meat hooks—mental prep for being barbed and baited by some fresh footwear. Dave’s sells Huf from sunny San Fran ($30–$150); as well as Vans ($45–$100), Nike ($65–$110) and Adidas ($65–$80). You’ve never had so much fun being on the slab.

  1. 7 E 3rd St, (between Bowery and Second Ave) 212-505-7551, dqmnewyork.com

Future Kicks

We’ve all wanted images of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on our shoes at some point or another. Grass (yep, that’s his name) takes such requests. He’ll paint and polish a pair of Nike Airforce 1s (or Bakers platform heels for women) any way your heart desires. Lookin’ this good ain’t cheap: The shoes go for $100 and the artwork is another $150-plus—unless, of course, you’ve got a gig at the Grammys and you need them encrusted in Swarovski crystals, in which case you’ll pay $1,500. Future Kicks’ showroom is in Grass’s basement, and it visits are by appointment only.

  1. By appointment only, 718-679-2833, futurekicks.com

Flight Club

  • Price band: 4/4

The majority of Flight’s business is through consignment, which means that sneaker connoisseurs, collectors and cranks bring their limited-edition, super rare shoes to be sold here. There are more than 1,000 styles to choose from, including the much-touted, Nike Air Foamposite Galaxy ($1,100–$1,600). You can also snatch up more modest fare like the Adidas Rod Laver sneakers ($60) or Converse Chuck Taylors ($45). The space is utilitarian, with no visual B.S. to detract from why you’re there—to fondle the plastic-wrapped sneakers of your dreams.

  1. Various locations, visit flightclubny.com
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The Brooklyn Circus

  • Price band: 2/4

If you love the look of antiques but hate the smell, Circus is where it’s at, stocking its shelves with goods like the 1930s-inspired Striver's Row line ($150–$300). The shop looks like an old man’s closet, but the PF Flyers ($40–$50) and Grenson dress shoes and boots ($250–$450) are anything but geriatric. Whether you’re XY or XX, you can snag some sweet new shoes for springtime.

  1. 150 Nevins St, (at Bergen St)
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Premium Goods

  • Price band: 2/4

With three portraits of Biggie Smalls, artwork by Takashi Murakami and two racks holding more than 70 styles of collectible kicks, Premium Goods is aptly named. Owner Clarence Nathan caters to local (hip) dads and urban teenagers with a selection of Vans, Nike, Adidas and New Balance sneakers ranging from $45 to $200. As for the more serious merch, Nathan utilizes a display case, “’cause you don’t want just regular dreamers comin’ in and touchin’ ’em.”

  1. 347 Fifth Ave, (between 4th and 5th Sts)
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Kith

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Local shoe designer Ronnie Fieg worked as a creative director and buyer for footwear chain David Z. before opening this specialty men’s shoe store. Automatic fogged-glass doors open to reveal a blue-lit futuristic room that houses an assortment of highly sought-after sneakers from around the world. Top picks include Supra leather-and-leopard-print pony-hair high-tops ($125) and Adidas SLVR canvas kicks adorned with leather buckles ($200). You’ll also find limited-edition collaborative apparel, such as Golden Bear wool-and-leather varsity jackets featuring Kith’s house logo ($340). A large oak table at the center of the room displays Helmut Newton photo books ($150) and gratis copies of local lifestyle magazine Frank151. Iron shelves showcase leather boots and dressier street shoes, including Ronnie Fieg for Sebago leather lace-up moccasins with removable kilties ($190), Grenson leather brogues featuring Vibram rubber wedge soles ($380) and Dr. Martens low-top pony-hair oxfords ($215). You’ll also find a selection of Fieg’s favorite British grooming products, such as Taylor of Old Bond Street herbal aftershave ($14) and Kent hair combs ($24).

  1. 644 Broadway, (at Bleecker St)
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Billa

10year work sneaker Stor