I feel like I could have wrote this story better. I wish I had gotten a more financial aspect of things. I tried asking economic questions, but came up empty handed for my answers. Anyways, this was still a really cool story to write and I had fun doing it.
Junior entrepreneur Danny Dombrowski owns Courtstyles, a sneaker business, all on his own. Buying from retailers including Nike, Adidas, Foot Locker and Eastbay, Dombrowski was inspired by multiple sources to begin Courtstyles.
“I was in Virginia Beach and I met a guy working at the hotel that I was at and just throughout my stay there he talked about the demand for shoes and showed me pictures of his basement which had full out shoe displays on every wall. He said every release he’d buy two [pairs of shoes], one to sell and what he sold it for would pay for his own pair,” Dombrowski said.
He started selling because of the benefits, but also because of his fascination with merchandising.
“I just started because I love shoes and I love money…I wanted to make extra money so I could buy shoes and whatever else I wanted, but I also wanted to have my own business…I’ve always loved business, especially watching the show ‘Shark Tank’,” Dombrowski said. “I just like that people can go on there and that their business might [make] a couple thousand [dollars] a month and they go there and it blows up because it [got them in the] national spotlight.”
Dombrowski has been selling shoes for three years and his official business is now two years old.
“I’ve sold pairs anywhere, from giving away shoes for free, [to selling them for around 100 dollars], anywhere up to 3,000,” Dombrowski said. “[Profit is] kind of always changing, it depends on what kind of shoes are coming out. On a Yeezy [Kanye West Designed Adidas Sneaker], you can make over two thousand on a pair, but other shoes you might only break even or make a couple bucks…I started selling on eBay, but eBay takes 10% of the sales and that kind of hurts and so I made my own website and started selling on my website for about a year and then went back to selling on eBay and my website. Recently, I haven’t had a website, so I started selling more locally. I have a lot of customers at HHS and in the local middle schools and just people that live in Harrisonburg.”
Dombrowski is currently relying on customers spreading the word to increase his sales locally.
“Basically it’s by word of mouth, so as people hear about me, they will contact me to order upcoming releases,” Dombrowski said. “I hand deliver local orders which helps build a relationship with my customers. My customer base in Harrisonburg has slowly grown throughout the past few months. I recently sold a pair to Ron Curry on the JMU men’s basketball team.”
The majority of Dombrowski’s customers live in California and New York. Social media has been a great asset to Courtstyles because of the easy broadcast of his business. Famous Viners like Max Jr. and Jerry Purpdrank have helped him out along the way as well.
“Social media is huge because it’s free, but I do a lot of giveaways and I pay people to do advertisements on there, so a lot of the famous vine people, I’ll send them free shoes and then they’ll post stuff for me,” Dombrowski said. “I have like 12,000 followers on [Instagram]…I got on twitter not even a year ago and I love selling on there because people just see stuff instantly.”
He plans to continue in business, whether he is still selling shoes or not.
“I’d love to open up my own sneaker store sometime after high school,” Dombrowski said. “Even if the business I get involved with doesn’t deal with sneakers, I think as long as there’s a demand for shoes, I’m always going to be doing it because it’s easy way to make money on the side. Not only is it easy money, but the whole process of buying shoes is fun.”
Launching Courtstyles has taught Dombrowski the power of connections in commerce.
“[Business has] helped me meet a lot of new people because there’s a lot of people in Harrisonburg that have become customers that otherwise I would never have known,” Dombrowski said. “[There are also] a lot of people throughout the country that I’m cool with on social media, so I might not see them but just [knowing them is beneficial]…they might get shoes I don’t get and then I buy it from them so I guess networking is a big part and just learning how to run a business helps for what I want to do in the future.”