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Old School Style
by Cliff Samaniego on Sep 18, 2003
There's a Fillmore time capsule waiting for you to unearth. Rainbow colored adidas pepper Harputs' walls on opposite sides of the room. These shoes have made it through decades of stock rotation. From cellar rooms 50 feet deep, they're making their final curtain call. Without a doubt, Harputs shoe store has the most extensive classic adidas shoe selection in the world.
Walking inside Harputs will take you on a trip down adidas memory lane: back when Muhammad Ali sported signature A-15 track suits, Run-DMC exposed Shelltoe tongues, and tennis star Stan Smith swung a wooden racket while wearing his signature shoe.
While national chains like Footlocker, Athletes Foot, and Foot Action sell the latest NBA endorsed shoes and apparel, Harputs specializes in selling classic kicks. Don't misconstrue remakes for originals. Each year out-of-season or slow selling items made their way to Harputs' basement and warehouse. Owner Gus Harput explains, "Except for the first day the shop opened, my uncle never had clearance sales or any sale at all for that matter." Looking back, Gus smiles when he thinks about his uncle's unconventional practice of hoarding instead of selling old stock at clearance prices, "They'd never see the light of day for years until appreciation raised their worth like fine wine aging in the cellar."
Harputs' adventure began in 1979 when Turk Harput bartered his Volvo 230 at a local flea market, in return he received 1,000 pairs of old sneakers. Starting in Alameda, the Harputs family business moved to Oakland, and now resides in its present location on Fillmore. Today, the store is still family owned and run by Gus, sister Ferda, and brother Matt. The Fillmore store has gone through renovations over the years, but its identity remains the same. Slowly, Gus dusts the old school gems out of the cellar and rotates them into his showroom.
Shoes aren't the only thing Harputs sells. Adidas jackets, track suits, jumpers and vests ride on industrial sized carts. You'll also notice that Harputs has a cornucopia of classic shoes and apparel outside of the adidas line including Nike, New Balance, Saucony, and Puma. But judging from the store's presentation, you'll know which brand Harputs is a purveyor of.
Just looking at Harputs current shoe display will test your knowledge of vintage sneakers. Do you remember the adidas "Country" model, launched in 1970 and hailed as one of the best running shoes? Depending on which model and color, it'll run you between $48 (for the ordinary) - $185 (fake snake skin model). Or how about the "Formel 1" running shoe that was released in 1977 and modeled after the Formula 1 race cars of the 70's? Black with yellow stripes costs $68, blue and orange will set you back $64.
Roaming through the store are 'sneaker heads' who prefer fashion flavah over athletic function. There is also a growing number of international buyers who make mandatory stops before heading to SFO. Gus explains, "We do get some serious buyers from sneaker collecting aristocracies in the UK and Japan that rival Imelda Marcos' passion for footwear."
It's even a regular pit stop for musicians headlining the Fillmore including Bjork, Johnny Depp, Chuck D, Paul Oakenfold, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. These stars pale in comparison, however, to Gus' favorite client and neighborhood legend Fillmore Slim.
While shoe trends may come and go, Gus knows over time you'll go back to the classics. And who would be a better person to sell your vintage shoes then Gus Harput, the walking adidas encyclopedia?
1527 Fillmore Street
(Fillmore @ Geary)
Hours: Sun - Sat 11 am - 7 pm
by Cliff Samaniego on Sep 18, 2003