Meet Derek Curry, the guy behind The Forum who built a sneaker business from scratch | Business


They met online in 2006. Which was no easy task considering it was before social media. It was in an online forum on a sneaker-selling website that Deon Point, working for a large company in Boston, continued to chat with a shoe guy from Lafayette who, as the story goes, does. stopped answering each answer with another question.

It was Derek Curry. He was working at Finish Line at the Acadiana Mall while he was back in school after a year in the military which included a deployment overseas. He was now ready to open a store. Now he needed more products, namely Nike.

The best way to get them, Point noted, was to attend the MAGIC trade show, the giant fashion show held twice a year in Las Vegas. Curry admitted he couldn’t rock it financially. Point made an offer: come here and you can stay with me.

“The first time I met, I think, was around 5:30 or 6 am,” said Point, now creative director of Concepts, a sneaker and apparel company. “I heard a knock on my door in Vegas. I opened the door, and it was him. I hugged her and said, ‘Speak up. We are going to sleep for a few hours. We woke up and ran to the living room.

The weekend, it turned out, was a defining moment of sorts. Nike had rejected him earlier – “It crushed me,” he recalls – but after meeting with a company representative in Las Vegas over the weekend, he was greeted the following Monday morning with an e- Nike mail. He got the count.

Sales then skyrocketed at his Lafayette store, Sneaker Politics. His sneaker store has seen an increase of around 30% in sales each year and now sells around 2,000 pairs of shoes per week, according to a report. With now six stores, plans for two more, and nearly 70 employees in two states as well as a warehouse on Ridge Road, the Curry company has grown into a major player in the sneaker shop industry after being one the first to emerge in the country as a social society. the media ushered in a sneaker boom.

Today, 15 years after that trip to Vegas, he is embarking on real estate development with The Forum, the $ 50 million project he and his partners are considering for the former Grand Marché shopping center in Lafayette.

Lafayette business owner Derek Curry and two partners will soon begin work on a $ 50 million mixed-use development near the corner of Johnston …

It’s certainly the biggest project he’s taken on, Curry admitted. On Tuesday, wearing a gray crewneck and green Politics cap, he seemed the most comfortable among his three partners speaking about the project in front of a full house at the LITE Center.

But then again, people who have come to know him and how he has built his business over the past 15 years probably weren’t surprised.

“I remember he was in my office saying his parents wanted him to go to MBA school,” said Heidi Melancon, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. . “And I remember saying, ‘Look, you can still do this. He was so prepared. He’s grown so much, and it’s so wonderful to see his growth and how he took off. He was at the forefront of his store’s shipping before it really was a thing. He immediately embraced online sales.

We will keep you posted on the Acadian economy. Register today.

But the start was not easy. The New Iberia High School graduate recalled being turned down by “every bank in New Iberia and Lafayette” to help him get started. Once he finally opened a few doors in the Piccadilly cafeteria on Johnston Street, he was the only employee, working all day and every day. He even scoured the UL campus to hand out flyers about the store.

But it was when social media first appeared that fun things started to happen. Calls started calling from New York and other parts of the country.

“I was one of the first sneaker stores there because I got it,” he said. “Social networks have changed everything for us. We jumped on it. We were one of the first sneaker stores to have a website, which I knew was a big deal. We understood that very early on.

But the social media effort may have been a double win since Sneaker Politics focused on imagery, said Matt Welty, editor of Complex.com, a website that covers culture. youth and co-host of The Complex Sneaker Podcast. .

Sneaker Politics, he noted, has an NBHD account – previously called Tier Zero – with Nike, one of the 20 in the world, which means he has access to many of Nike’s most coveted versions. .

“When a sneaker came out, Sneaker Politics often had the best pictures online,” Welty said. “Being located in Lafayette, Louisiana – I guess it’s not the most global city – but a lot of people around the world started to pay attention to Sneaker Politics through the photographs the site was producing. Often times, we used the photos taken by Sneaker Politics because they were just aesthetic.

Curry will open at the Sneaker Politics store in the Forum, but that’s where this story starts to come back. There is a reason the project was announced despite the fact that only a few companies have so far been lined up for the development, which will span almost 8½ acres and approximately 35,000 square feet with the possibility of have more.

Barely 40, Curry, a college-aged father of two, says he wants to provide opportunities at the Forum for those young entrepreneurs whose idea of ​​a business can be rejected by many rejections.

“I want to try my luck with Derek, aged 18-20, who has a great idea that he doesn’t know how to make happen,” said Curry. “I want to take risks with these guys because they have brilliant ideas. They are the future, and they bring these new things that are going to be something big in 10 years.

Still, this is the location that can deserve the most praise in Curry. Curry, along with a team of Alex Luna from Collective Woodworks & Designs and Terry Crochet from The Architect Design Studio, drew applause from the LITE Center audience on Tuesday for his goal of seeing “something good out there instead of ’empty parking lot’ has been there for years.

“I think he really likes where he’s from,” Point said. “But I also think he’s a little insatiable in this regard. He has always sought to do more. Just when I think he’s happy with where he’s at, he tells me he’s doing something else that has nothing to do with shoes. He always seems to have a high level of challenge associated with him. He doesn’t seem to back down from that sort of thing.


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