Prestley Howard’s room is filled floor to ceiling with Nike and Adidas cleats, Air Jordans, Yeezys and soccer balls.
It’s an obsession, for sure, but it’s also a business.
The 19-year-old University of Arizona sophomore has resold those shoes to the tune of $20,000 in just a few years.
Howard operates Cactus Cleats, his athletic shoes resale company, from the bedroom in his parents’ Tucson home. On a recent Tuesday, he had a few new shoes to add to his personal collection. Some of them included the Air Jordan 4 “Union” and the Air Jordan 11 “Columbia” lows. His smile grew and his voice took on an animated tone as he gushed over the Air Jordan 11s, which he said are his favorite silhouette of Jordan shoes.
The Jordan x Union collaboration was some of the most anticipated shoes of the year, and Howard was able to get a pair retail for $225. If he sells them, he can fetch as much as $400.
For people not familiar with sneaker culture, Jordans are always on the more expensive side, usually ranging from $160-$220 if you buy them at a store. On the resell market, you can flip Jordans for at least double the retail price.
“Yeah, so the 4’s I was hyped about just cause obviously they were a Jordan collab, but the Air Jordan 11 silhouette is just so clean to me, so I would’ve done anything to get those,” Howard said.
Howard’s obsession with cleats started when he played soccer as a kid. He’s played for clubs including FC Tucson and Vail Soccer Club, and he was a goalie all four years at Cienega High School in Vail on Tucson’s far east side.
Even in high school, he had an impressive cleat collection, about 15 pairs to be exact.
“I’ve always been spoiled when it comes to soccer cleats. I always had the newest and more expensive cleats. Some of them I didn’t even wear, just kept as more memorabilia,” Howard said.
It was in high school that he started collecting cleats, picking up used pairs at second-hand sports stores and buying new ones. He’d collect so many cleats that he would often just sell them to his teammates.
After high school, he and his dad teamed up to start Cactus Cleats.
“Really how it works is we both will be on the lookout for stuff at the new/used cleats shops we’ve been buying from for years or even eBay or Poshmark,” Howard says, “Then if it’s profitable, we clean it up and post it on the site.”
He’s always loved shoes, but he never got deep into the culture until his senior year of high school in 2021.
“I found out about the ‘SNKRS’ app, which is basically a Nike-owned app where you can enter raffles on more sought-after shoes,” he said.
Once he realized how to win drops, he started putting more of his business earnings towards sneakers.
“Having my own business really affords me the ability to kind of pick and choose what shoes and cleats I want to buy,” Howard said about more expensive shoes and cleats.
Last summer, Howard traded eight pairs of Jordans to Generation Cool, which is located on North Fourth Avenue, for Gold Medal Air Jordan 1, valued at $1,200 at the time.
Judging by the number of shoes in his closet, it’s easy to label Howard a “sneakerhead.”
“Right now I have around 30-40 shoes, but my first major shoe was the [Midnight Navy] Air Jordan 1,” Howard said. “That was the first shoe I got off the SNKRS app, but my favorite shoe in my collection right now is the [Purple Lobster] Nike Dunk SB.”
Howard said his sneaker fascination and Cactus Cleats is his possible future, not just some after-school job.
“Obviously I’m still young. I want to finish school and get a degree in business management since I already have this experience with my own business,” Howard said, “and I’d like to expand upon it whether it be retail stores, or selling shoes as well, just anything I can do to help build wealth for my future family and endeavors.”
*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.
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