Sneakerheads Embark on Galaxy Quest

It was pandemonium at some sneaker shops around the U.S. this week as sneaker enthusiasts lined up to get their hands on Nike’s latest release: the Foamposite Galaxy.

The shoe, which retails for $220 and launched today, coincided with a package of outer space-themed shoes that the Beaverton, Ore.-based brand released for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.

Some hopeful buyers pulled out all the stops to get a pair. Despite officially limiting the time for lining up to two days before the release, Austin, Texas, sneaker shop Nice Kicks had prospective buyers camped out in front of the store by the beginning of the week. And according to the Nice Kicks Twitter feed, some overeager fans were trying shady techniques (bribes, calling the police impersonating the storeowner to scatter the crowds) in the days leading up to the drop.

The Charlotte Observer reported that a crowd of 100 people was dispersed in front of Charlotte, N.C.’s South Park mall before midnight on Thursday, and then again at 9 a.m. Friday, saying the House of Hoops store there wouldn’t be selling the shoes that day.

And at the Florida Mall in Orlando, more than 100 law enforcement officers in full riot gear were called in to help control a crowd reportedly numbering as many as 3,000 looking to get their hands on the shoes last night, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Foot Locker location inside the mall was eventually unable to sell the shoes at midnight as planned.

With Miami being the site of the 2012 NBA All Star events, player appearances are scheduled at Florida Mall’s Foot Locker and Footaction stores throughout the weekend. Foot Locker could not be reached for comment regarding when the Foamposite Galaxy shoes would be released for sale.

But not all sneaker stores were as frenzied. At Bodega in Boston, owner Jay Gordon said that by Friday morning, when the store picked out the 1,000 raffle tickets that had been issued for the store’s 12 pairs, the lineup stayed “very cool” and there were few problems to report.

No major incidents have been reported in New York, where some consumers had camped out to buy the Foamposite as early as Monday.

“I came here on Monday and it was looking crazy — a huge line with tents, no shower and no toothbrush,” Rahim Khan, a 19-year old college student, said while waiting in front of a House of Hoops location in New York on Thursday.

Khan added that having the rare pair was worth the trouble. “Knowing that I’m going to be one of the few people that’s going to have them is worth it,” he said. “I like being different. I like being unique.”

Demand — and some outrage — was stoked on Tuesday, when Nike announced that contrary to previous information, the shoes would not be released for sale at Nikestore.com.

But even before the drop, the aftermarket speculation ran rampant.

On Craigslist, a Queens resident offered his purple 1996 Chevy Cavalier (and a full tank of gas) delivered to the door of anyone who could provide him with a size 10.5 pair of the kicks.

And hours after the drop, postings for pairs wanted and for sale were flooding Craigslist and eBay, with prices in the thousands. On eBay, bidding on a pair of size 10 sneakers reached a whopping $80,000 before being yanked — whether by eBay or by the seller is unclear.

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