Photographs and story by Carlos Rene Castro
Sneakers aren’t just a sports accessory anymore — now, people collect them like you would a piece of art or a rare bottle of wine.
The people who collect them, known as “sneakerheads,” are riding a trend that has grown astronomically in the past five years. Rare sneakers are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, and even more modestly priced athletic footwear can be desirable and collectible.
Like any collectible item, prices are determined by what’s rare or unusual, who made it, and its place in history. Unlike a lot of collectible items, proud sneakerheads like to wear what they collect. Buying and selling sneakers has become big business online and around the globe.
And now, one new shop on the Monterey Peninsula has gone full sneaker.
Located in the heart of downtown Seaside at 620 Broadway, The Covenant is the go-to place for sneaker fans to browse through popular sneakers and clothing brands.
The Covenant has the feel of a hangout spot where you can relax with friends while enjoying graffiti art by local artist Jorge Torres, also known as Thumbzy. Torres’s bright-colored mural symbolizes the rich marine life of the Monterey Bay, with vivid colors that let visitors visualize the fragile beauty of the deep blue sea.
Professional athletes like basketball icon Michael Jordan and corporate marketing from shoe companies forever changed sneaker culture. In 1984, Nike and Michael Jordan teamed up to launch the release of Air Jordans. This monumental moment shaped how sneakers are made and promoted.
Fast forward to today: collecting fashionable sneakers is a thrilling hobby for sneakerheads. Every year, popular shoe brands such as Adidas and Nike release limited editions and sneaker entuhathisc scramble online to get their hands on the newest releases.
The Covenant is filling that demand locally.
The Covenant started with a group of friends who just 16 months ago were selling sneakers out of the trunk of a 2015 Honda Accord. Heber Alberto, David Cordova, Edgar Diego and Kevin Ramos would fill the car with shoe boxes and drive to the Bay Area in search of buyers.
“Before anyone locally showed us love and started supporting us, we had to go to San Francisco and Oakland every day,” said Cordova.
But in the short time they’ve been hustling and selling sneakers, the business has taken off. Ramos created an Instagram account in September 2020 to resell clothes. Soon after, Alberto joined Ramos and started buying shoes through OfferUp and tried selling to make quick change, but it wasn’t working out.
Early on, Alberto learned about supply and demand, trying to earn $100 for every pair of shoes he sold. They were difficult to sell at those prices. “Eventually, I toned it down to $30 bucks, so I pretty much took what I could,” he said.
“It is all networking, we buy off from people who hit on sneakers and sell it. They have collections and hold shoes over time and wait over time till the market goes up and we buy them,” said Alberto.
The store’s unusual name came from Alberto’s and Ramos’ passion for the video game Halo 3.
“When you play Halo story mode, you have to beat The Covenant. When we were making the name, Kevin called me and asked what we should name it,” said Alberto. The Covenant came to mind right away.
Just having a brick-and mortar store has been a big accomplishment. "There's people that do this for years and they are still on Instagram."
They opened their store as a way to bring their business closer to home, but the four co-owners face daily challenges in their personal lives.
Diego still has a regular part-time job outside of The Covenant, working at Alvarado Street Brewery in Monterey. During his days off, he helps with daily tasks around the shop.
He has been working in the hospitality industry since he was 18, saving up money so he could add to his collection of sneakers.
“The goal is to leave Alvarado Street Brewery and stay here to make my income,” said Diego.
Aside from providing sneaker enthusiasts a space to purchase their favorite kicks, The Covenant wants to give back to local youth and honor kids who are doing well in their academic studies. On Easter Sunday, The Covenant distributed toys and games, such as Fortnite. Parents and youngsters came to the sneaker store and got their hands on a toy on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Covenant does not have regular hours, but sneaker fans can visit the store and purchase shoes by scheduling an appointment between noon and 8 p.m. via Instagram.
Just having a brick-and mortar store has been a big accomplishment for the team. “There’s people that do this for years and they are still on Instagram. It only has been six months that we have been working on this store and we are still not even open (regular hours),” said Cordova about the difficulty of transitioning from selling shoes online. But, he said, it’s all about networking, and being persistent.
“It is crazy all the connections you make because those connections are gonna take you places that money can’t. The money is going to come, you just have to be consistent and be patient.”
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