BY REED SHELTON
With its walls lined in high-end sneakers of every imaginable color and hip-hop playing on the radio, Deadstock SBY almost seems out of place in Downtown Salisbury with its building nestled between the health department on one side and a defense attorney on the other.
Yet in spite of that incongruence, this is the rock upon which Drew Davis, Deadstock SBY’s owner and operator, has decided to build his church. Members of his congregation are known as “sneakerheads” – fashionistas and collectors who have elevated footwear to a form of cultural art and expression.
“You can absolutely call it a cult following,” Davis said. “The sneakerhead community—especially locally—is incredible. I’ve been so busy here with the store that I haven’t even been able to launch my online store yet. We’ve had a phenomenal first couple of months, and I don’t see it slowing down.”
The network and culture that Davis says Deadstock SBY connects to extends beyond footwear. Music, clothing, art and urban life play heavily into it, said Davis, who used to be a hip-hop artist and promoter here in his hometown of Salisbury.
But Davis said that he eventually hit a “glass ceiling” with his aspirations and wanted a new outlet to pursue his passions.
“I wanted to be a cultural influence on this area and that’s where this came to fruition,” he said. “It allows me to elaborate on what it was I was trying to build with hip-hop. But on the (Eastern) Shore, that’s not necessarily as accepted as it is in D.C. or Baltimore, so we had to do it in a different way, and this is a way of putting it out there in a light that people are less wary of.”
It never occurred to Davis to open up anywhere else; “this is my home, this is where I feel I’m best fit to expand the vision I have for the area,” he said.
Both other downtown businesses, as well as the city itself, have been enthusiastic and energetic about his concept.
Salisbury City Council President Jacob Day said that one of the exciting things about Deadstock SBY is not only that it is youth-oriented and bringing more young people downtown, but that it personifies what he hopes to see for the downtown area.
“You look at their model and it’s really interesting,” Day said. “It’s a shoe store, but what’s great is that it’s a unique shoe store. It’s created and owned by local people and, in other words, it embodies so much of what we’re trying to accomplish in our city, which is to get young people to stay here, be successful economically and determine their own future.”
3rd Friday—the monthly gathering of locals and artists along the nearby Downtown Plaza—is one avenue Deadstock SBY has taken to reach out to the community, where they held an event featuring local disc jockeys and offering deals with other businesses in the downtown area.
Jamie Heater, head coordinator of 3rd Friday, believes what they offer is a perfect fit for what the event has always tried to create.
“What [Drew Davis] is passionate about is absolutely underrepresented, probably everywhere, and that’s really what 3rd Friday is about,” Heater said. “Giving local artists and crafters a true forum to get their word out and get their art out. It’s a way for everyone finding a way to participate.
“They get it. It’s about celebrating the things that are unique about Salisbury and unite people here.”
Deadstock SBY is located at 100 East Main St., Suite 103, Salisbury.