From left to right Christian Dorsey (partner) and Jason Johnson, Owner
Bob’s Classic Kicks, located in Midtown Detroit, has been an intended destiny for owner Jason Johnson. From the beginning, Johnson has always bought sneakers. As a young boy, his mother knew that a trip to the mall would end with her buying him a new pair of shoes. By his early twenties, Johnson had accumulated enough gym shoes to open a store, so that became his goal.
It seemed as if help had an eye out for Johnson; a chance meeting with an investor and a business consultant while working as a valet for Henry Ford Hospital, led him to writing a business plan and selecting a location. Although painted over now, he wrote his name on the building where he wanted to house his business. Call it divine providence. He simply says, “The Lord has shown me favor and continues to show me favor.” With no financing in sight, he turned to his father for as his first investor.
Armed with a vision, Johnson created Bob’s Classic Kicks. He wanted the name of the store to be timeless and faceless. He wanted a name that would cater to everyone regardless of ethnicity. “Bob” is not trendy or restrictive, much like the business itself.
Upon receiving his first bank loan, Johnson was persistent in his pursuit of big name contracts, including Nike, Adidas, Reebok and others. After the business was up and running, he found the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED) online and received a loan for working capital. CEED is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower women and minorities economically through business development training, supplier certification, business-to-business networking and accessible capital assistance programs.
Johnson took advantage of the technical assistance that CEED provides. He says, “Anything that I asked of CEED, they helped in some way.” To reach more customers, Johnson turned to social media. You can “like” Bob’s Classic Kicks on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter or simply stop by in during one of their many in-store events. Also, the retailer takes on community projects.
Recently, Bob’s Classic Kicks partnered with Detroit Public Schools and agreed to give a pair of sneakers to all public high school students who attended school on Count Day. Johnson explains that the intent wasn’t to bribe the children, but encourage them. Schools are awarded funding by the state based on the number of students who attended, specifically on Count Day. Johnson understands that the more money schools get from the state, the better the school system becomes. The proud graduate of Martin Luther King Jr. High School is committed to doing his part to make Detroit a better place. While free sneakers may not fix the school system’s shortcomings, Johnson is using his gift and passion to be a part of the solution.
Johnson is not done pursing destiny, stating that Bob’s is “a work in progress.” He may expand the product line or expand the territory. Either way, Jason Johnson and Bob’s Classic Kicks are on the move.
For more information and to check out the new inventory and upcoming events, follow Bob’s Classic Kicks on Twitter @BCK_Detroit or visit their website: bobsclassickicks.com