Where to Find a Better Pair of Sneakers

These stores offer the latest, the best, and the most exclusive.

The fashion world is suddenly obsessed with sneakers—and for good reason. Not only does the right pair put style and momentum in your strut, but a number of new technologies (woven fabrics, polymer soles, wearable tech) are allowing designers to take their footwear game to the next level. Still, the best kicks are often hard to find if you’re not looking in precisely the right places. These are those places. 

Photo Courtesy of Bodega

Bodega: Boston, MA

What looks like an old run-down convenience store is actually Boston’s coolest source for sneakerheads. Go through the secret entrance, located behind the Snapple machine at 6 Clearway Street, and enter into a universe of high-quality footwear. The dark wood shelves are filled with new releases like x Raf Simons Stan Smiths and blinged-outAvantix 24 Gold Pumas, along with old-school favorites like Nike Air Maxs and Air Force 1s in a tightly-edited assortment of colorways. Also not to miss: apparel from emerging labels like Danish import Han Kjøbenhavn.

Photo Courtesy of Ubiq

UBIQ: Philadelphia, PA

The intimate, exclusive atmosphere of UBIQ has everything to do with its location in a renovated townhouse, complete with an enormous fireplace and sleek hardwood floors, on Walnut Street in plush Rittenhouse Square. Walk through a series of separate rooms spread out on multiple floors to find recent arrivals. K-Swiss Classic II’s, Asics GT Cools, and Nike NSW Tiempo ’94 Lunar Mid TP in reflective citron and black shades have been spotted on their shelves, along with the much-buzzed-about UBIQ x Packer Shoes x FILA Spaghetti.

Dave’s Quality Meats: New York, NY

Dave’s Quality Meats is not located anywhere near the touristy Meatpacking District. It’s on the Lower East Side, where it achieves a bit of raw grittiness by using meat hooks for clothing hangers. Despite being super well-known, the shop is still well-regarded for its selection of Vans—this summer, the shop teamed up with the skater brand to release a collection of all-white DQM for Vans Square Ones—along with Nikes, SB Koston 2 Max’s, and greatest hits from Adidas and HUF.

Saint Alfred: Chicago, IL

This Wicker Park favorite deserves the hype. Since opening in 2005, this has been the place to score unique and thoughtfully considered pairs from a tightly edited assortment of coveted brands. Currently in stock: Asics Gels in light blue and gray suede, limited edition New Balance x Saint Alfred red suedes, Reebok Pump 20s in mustard yellow, and Chi-Town-specific Vans designed for Cubs and White Sox fans.

Photo Courtesy of Undefeated

Undefeated: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vega, Tokyo, Shizuoka

With a string of locations on the West Coast and abroad, Undefeated has played a major role in the rise of sneaker culture. Thanks to interesting collaborations with artists and influencers, the store, which has partnered with athletes like Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant and a multitude of famous brands (Adidas, Converse, and Reebok) to produce small quantities of highly sought-after trainers, still offers exclusive shoes. While some Nikes can be found for $65, other reissued finds go for hundreds. 

Kicks/HI: Honolulu, HI

Founded by the visionary behind Saint Alfred, this industrial, loftlike boutique opened in 2001 and quickly amassed a loyal following. At the time, it was the only place to score cultish footwear, like Nike Quickstrikes, and equally elusive apparel from Stussy. Since then, it has maintained a reputation for carrying a solid assortment of goods, including made-in-the-USA New Balance 557s and their 999s, 1970s Converse Chuck Taylors, and Asics Gel Lytes.

Sneaker Politics: New Orleans, LA

Sneaker freak Derek Curry founded this mini empire, with three locations around New Orleans, in 2006. While the boutiques themselves are muted—with black-and-white film posters, dark woods, and dim lighting—the kicks come in all manner of electric and neon colorways. What’s currently drawing our eye? Adidas Busenitz in a blaze of red, black, and gold; Nike Air Jordan Shine in Varsity Red; Saucony Grid 9000 in gray and blue; and BWGH x Puma XS-698s, inspired by the artwork of abstract painter Ethan Cook (collector’s alert).