Sneaker-head sanctuary

A new store on Como Avenue, PIFFmpls, opened earlier this month and aims to cater to the city’s growing urban wear market.

by Barry Lytton

The main feature of Como Avenue Southeast’s newest storefront is designed to look like a cross between a Foot Locker and an art gallery — a fantasy of sorts for local sneaker-heads.

PIFFmpls, a one-stop shop for streetwear needs, opened Labor Day, and it consigns luxury shoes and clothing from brands like Versace, A Bathing Ape, Gucci and Hugo Boss.

Its self-described “curator” and owner, Ben Alberts, said though the store’s stock is now split evenly between shoes and apparel, Alberts is looking to expand to art, prints and fixed-gear bicycles.

“Fashion runs in trends; style is for life,” said Alberts, adding that he plans for PIFFmpls to become the primary provider for Minneapolis’ growing crowd of urban-wear aficionados.

The store, located at 1506 Como Ave. SE, consigns all of its high-end sneakers and sells them at prices that sometimes rival those of art galleries.

One pair of practically new, size 9 Air Jordan 9s exclusively created for the University of Oregon basketball team touts a $1,500 price tag.

Because it consigns all of its shoes and some of its clothes, PIFFmpls acts as a middle man by stocking and pricing the goods and taking a cut of the proceeds.

Alberts said the boutique is always looking to pick up “fresh kicks” from people hoping to sell or trade near-mint street-savvy regalia, rare finds and items released in limited collections.

But PIFFmpls only deals in what Alberts described as “deadstock” — brand-new items — or apparel worn only once or twice.

Customers can peruse T-shirts, sweatshirts and stickers from companies like 40s and Shorties, Stack Duckets and Frosty Headwear.

STUDIiYO23 is an Uptown business that caters to a similar clientele as PIFFmpls. It has been open for more than four years, said manager Taylor Lindgren. He said it relies less on consignment sales than Como’s apparel stop.

“Around here, there is definitely a growing market,” he said of Minneapolis’ urban-wear scene. “We’ve been growing every year, so there is definitely a high interest.”

PIFFmpls isn’t Alberts’ first foray into apparel commerce, but it is his first physical storefront. He used to run a website that dealt in similar products, called “Scotty Piff Collections.” He said he’s hopeful for the future success of his newest venture.

 “Labor Day — our first day open — we killed it,” Alberts said.

He said plans are in the works for a PIFFkato, which would service the sneaker-head community in Mankato, Minn.

Alberts, a Woodbury, Minn., native, said his zeal for street swag began in high school and has added personal standby brands like In4mation and Mighty Healthy into his store’s collection.

As PIFFmpls is still in its infancy, the stock is constantly evolving, Alberts said.

“We are getting fresh sneakers daily, fresh apparel monthly,” he said.