Since high school, they were four young guys struggling to find clothes that suited them on Long Island. Now, they’re outfitting shoppers with bleeding edge streetwear and sneakers in their own shop close to home.
With their own eight hands and childhood savings, DayShawn Andrews, Yardley Bonhumme, Kristoff Galloway and Eric Lee constructed and then last week opened The Hype Long Island at 1879 Route 112 in Coram.
“No loans,” Lee said of getting the shop started. “This is our savings from when we were little kids. This has always been our dream.”
On the right side of the shop are racks loaded with men’s women’s and kid’s tops, bottoms and outerwear from leading brands like Supreme, BAPE, Palace and Kith.
Sneakers dominate the left wall. The shelves, as well as The Hype’s Facebook and Instagram pages, are jam packed with popular styles from such leading brands as Nike and Yeezy. The shop also carries hard-to-find pairs for sneakerheads, tracking down the latest Travis Scott collaboration or cult-like following favorites, such as Reves Paris.
The priciest pair the shop sold so far was a pair of off-white Nike Dunks. The most expensive pair it carries for the devout collector: Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 Lows.
Accompanying the sneaker wall are dozens of framed photos and posters boasting iconic African-American role models the new businessmen said inspire them. They include shots of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, N.W.A. and Beyoncé — and movie posters for “Do The Right Thing” and “Black Panther.”
As for the storeowners, they may soon become local legends after generating social media buzz with the help of three friends, Tom, Noah and Brandon.
“We just had our grand opening and The Hype did better than we expected,” Lee said. “To open on a Monday after Halloween and to make 20, 30 sales for the day, I feel that’s almost legendary.”
‘Why not just bring it here?’
Childhood friends Andrews, Bonhumme, Galloway and Lee have been buying, selling and trading sneakers since they were students of Longwood High School. But acquiring kicks and streetwear locally was near impossible, they say. The Smith Haven Mall did not carry clothes that suited them, so they had to trek out to SoHo and other points west.
“Basically on Long Island, even the mall, they don’t give us anything,” Bonhumme said of the genesis of The Hype. “Growing up, all that was at the mall was Polo and Levis. You’d be lucky to get some Jordans. From years of buying stuff and shopping, we always had to go out the way to get things. So why not just bring it here?”
A few years after graduating in 2011, the young men began discussing the prospect of having their own, local shop dedicated to their affinity for sneakers and urban clothing. They already had products and connections from purchases and sales online and at sneaker conventions across the country.
“We’ve all been talking about doing a business, probably since we were about 22, 23,” Lee said. “This year we all turned 28, and one day we were in the car chilling and realized we’re almost at that age that we said ‘We’re not gonna be sitting around doing nothing.’ So it’s time to do something.”
Galloway made the first move, turning passion into profession.
“Last year around this time I was gathering Supreme stuff, hats and bags, and I was holding onto it,” Galloway said. “Around Christmas time, I posted all of it and it went mad fast. I just posted it on Instagram, and it was word-of-mouth. I realized this is what we got to do.”
Now, after opening their first shop in what they’re convinced is a growing market, they are already thinking about where they may expand to next. Yardley said the Hamptons would be an ideal location, while Andrews is eyeing as far south as North Carolina.
Before settling on a second location, the four friends are going to keep building a following and, of course, acquiring more sneakers.
“We’re on our way to Boston Nov. 13 for another sneaker event,” Andrews said. “Buying and selling.”
Top: From left to right: DayShawn Andrews, Yardley Bonhumme, Kristoff Galloway and Eric Lee.