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On Monday, the British streetwear label Corteiz posted a pair of Black Nike Air Max 95 sneakers with pink accents lying on top of a bodega counter with a simple call to action on Instagram:
“BE @ WEST 34TH ST. & 7TH AVE. TOMORROW AT 12:05PM EST. LOCATION REVEALED HERE. FIRST COME FIRST SERVE. 1 PAIR PERSON. WE OUTSIDE. RTW.”
By noon, all four corners of 34th Street and Seventh Avenue were filled with hundreds of people staring in anticipation at a digital Nike billboard perched on top of a building by the southwest corner of 34th Street. Once 12:05 p.m. hit, they stood focused in nearly dead silence with their eyes glued to the screen for 15 more minutes until a flash of text appeared.
That’s all it took to send hundreds of people sprinting east toward the nearest subway station, hailing cabs, or jetting off on Citi Bikes to GPS coordinates that led to a corner bodega in Manhattan’s Lower East Side with a sign that read “Corteiz Mart & Deli.” Citi Bikes were haphazardly tossed aside on the sidewalk nearby as a hefty line began to wrap around the corner of East 4th Street that snaked down Avenue C and spilled into East 5th Street.
One security guard, who was mobbed while handing out wristbands that granted access to the bodega, pulled a knife on someone attempting to take them directly out of his pockets. They were snatched in seconds anyway: Resellers were quick to flip the free bands on the spot to desperate Corteiz heads willing to pay as much as $150—mere steps away from the brand’s founder Clint419, who’s been extremely vocal about how much he despises resellers. Police eventually showed up to close off all four intersections near the bodega and quell the crowd.
“At the end of the day, when you do stuff that’s out of the box, it’s what pushes the culture forward,” Clint said the day after the release during an interview with Nike’s SNKRS Live. “What’s the worst thing that could happen? Maybe the police might arrest you or something.”
“I wouldn’t say this is the craziest drop I’ve ever experienced, but it’s the craziest I’ve seen post-COVID,” shared Jesus Ortiz, the owner of the Lower East Side sneaker resale shop Vault 134 who managed to get several pairs of the shoes. “There hasn’t been a pop-up like this in so long and this is exactly why.”