Many historians date sneaker culture back to the ’80s, when Michael Jordan launched the Air Jordan line. Who knew in that moment that the price of a pair of sneakers had the potential to rise into the hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars? Today, some sneaker collectors, aka sneakerheads, don’t even flinch when they see those price tags. But many others — often younger buyers — either can’t afford or refuse to pay such exorbitant prices.

Entrepreneur Charles Reid has their backs.

“I started reselling my own shoes a few years ago, because I had 50 or 60 pairs and decided I was too old for all that,” says Reid. “I found that people, especially kids, really wanted to buy used sneakers because they couldn’t afford new ones. I introduced myself to Jarrod Osborne, who owned a shop where he restored sneakers to look like new, and we built a partnership to establish the Remix brand.”

Remix, an 11-store retail shoe chain specializing in new and refurbished sneakers, gives customers an opportunity to buy, sell and trade sneakers in any of 11 mall locations across Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. We asked Charles Reid about his business and vision.

Is This Your First Entrepreneurial Venture?

Yes. My partner, Jarrod Osborne, and I started the business shortly before I retired from my 20-year career in corrections. When I retired in January 2022, we had three stores up and running. We opened eight more that year.

What Was the Biggest Challenge You Faced Early On? How Did You Overcome That Challenge?

I had trouble getting customers into our first store. Then I had the idea of inviting local influencers to check us out. Once they started talking about us on social media, traffic increased substantially. I use this marketing strategy now in every new location we open. Having a local rapper, basketball player or other community influencer building awareness on social media and playing a role at your grand opening can make a very strong impact, especially on the younger demographic.

How Did You Decide to Move Your Business into Malls? How Has That Helped Remix Grow?

I saw empty spaces when walking through my local mall and decided to look into it. I had assumed mall space wouldn’t be affordable but found that not to be true. You do have to negotiate to get a good deal, but once you start building a rapport with a mall management company, it opens the door to new opportunities. They come to you when they have openings in other malls to see if you may be interested.

What Are the “Junior Partnerships” You Offer Some of Your Employees?

When I interview job candidates, I look for people who are not only committed to being good employees but also driven to grow with our business. Those who prove themselves to be reliable and hard-working — who provide great customer service and understand how the business works — may have the opportunity to manage a new location. We invest together so that they have ownership in that store, and I provide them with the oversight and coaching they need to grow into the role.

Do You Have Mentors or Business Advisors You Rely On?

My PNC business banker is wonderful in helping me manage my financial accounts. I can call her anytime and ask anything. But in terms of business mentors — seasoned entrepreneurs or retail experts — no, I really haven’t had that type of support. I’ve bumped my head along the way and learned from those experiences. Now I like to give back by sharing those lessons with young entrepreneurs. In fact, I’m participating in a roundtable soon to do just that.

What Advice Do You Give Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I remind them that none of us knows everything — that it’s important to listen. I tell them, “Find people you trust (experienced business owners, for example), ask them questions and give thoughtful consideration to their advice. Also be open to ideas from unconventional sources.” I once got great business advice from a homeless gentleman who came into my store to get out of the rain. He helped me see my business from a different perspective. As business owners, we need to listen and learn.

What Is Your Vision for Your Company?

For now, I’m looking to stay with the 11 stores we have but add a digital component. Specifically, we’re looking to add online shopping capabilities to our website. In the retail industry, online sales are growing at a faster rate than in-store sales, and many of our customers prefer to shop using their electronic devices.

What Do You Find Most Gratifying about Being an Entrepreneur?

What’s most rewarding to me is knowing my business supports 40 employees and their families. Remix doesn’t just generate money for my family, my partner and me; it makes money for everyone who contributes to our stores’ success.

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