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Civic Minds in The Seattle Times

Program Content for April 18, 2014


Date:  Friday, April 18, 2014

E-Edition Date:  Thursday, April 17, 2014

Article Title: ‘Sneakerheads’ adept in the art of haggling

Section:  Business, A8


Vocabulary Review: Lucrative


“While the lucrative retail business for basketball shoes — and the exclusive lines that attract overnight campers outside elite stores — have existed for decades now, this teenager-filled marketplace (or high-end sneaker exchange) has spread from city to city in the last few years.”


Find the definition of lucrative and write it down, using your own words.  Then, create a sentence using lucrative.





Comprehension Questions




1.      In a flurry of transactions, John, who is only 13 years old, bought, sold or exchanged 20 pairs of designer basketball sneakers and walked away with seven, four more pairs than he started with. His collection’s retail value climbed to $________ from $340.


2.      What are “Sneakerheads?”


3.      Jake White, 14, of Freehold, N.J., has 81 pairs in his collection, helped a lot by gifts from his parents. He estimates they’ve spent $11,000 on shoes and could probably make $____________ if he sold them all.


4.      While the lucrative retail business for basketball shoes — and the exclusive lines that attract overnight campers outside elite stores — have existed for decades now, this teenager-filled marketplace (or high-end sneaker exchange) has spread where?



5.      The sports footwear craze began 30 years or so ago.  How did it start?


6.      To this day, no player’s line comes close to Nike’s Jordan branded footwear, sales of which reached $2.5 billion last year.


7.      Overall, basketball sneaker sales made up $_______ billion of the total $21 billion athletic-shoe business, according to Princeton Retail Analysis.


8.      What do these teenage traders know about their products?


9.      What is the demographic selling and collecting shoes?


10.   What happens at these convention sales?


11.   How do experts check to make sure the shoes are authentic?




Class Discussion Questions and Essay Prompts:



·        Have you heard of “Sneakerheads” previously?

·        Do you know someone who buys/trades shoes?

·        Would you ever try this?  Why or why not? 


Joseph Diorio, 34, the owner of SoleXChange, hosts and sponsors trading events in major cities like New York and Miami and likens the sneaker trading craze to the comic-book business. “I think collecting sneakers will live on forever because there is a story behind every sneaker,” Diorio said.


·        Do you agree or disagree with Diorio?  Why or why not?



At the smaller convention attended by John Leonardo and a few hundred teenagers, Nicole Cavallero, a language-arts teacher at Pine Brook School in Manalapan and the mother of a 12-year-old trader, watched as shoes switched hands quickly.


“This scene is absolutely insane, but I know that this is all the rage,” she said, adding   that she gave her son, Dominick, and one of his friends a lesson in bargaining on the way to an event. “As parents we need to encourage them not to be taken advantage of but also to get their money’s worth.”


·        Is this bartering and exchange system the best way for teens for learn about money, learning how not to be taken advantage of and getting their money’s worth?  Why or why not? 

·        How have your parents taught you the same lessons?



“These kids make 10 to 12 transactions and before you know it, they have a $2,000 pair of sneakers or a real nice collection of shoes,” said Suraj Kaufman, the owner of two popular Nike footwear stores in New Jersey called Sneaker Room, in Bayonne and Jersey City. His stores have more than 66,000 followers on Facebook. “It’s really amazing to see.”


·        How are teens getting thousands of dollars to fund this hobby?



While money or shoes change hands successfully on these Saturday afternoons, trades using Instagram and other social media have become so popular that a new shoe — ordered online with the purchase snapped via Instagram — may not have even arrived before it is resold by some enterprising youth. Online and off, business is brisk.


“I can see sneakers becoming even bigger than the baseball-card scene,” predicted George Rahor, who teams with his son, Steven, 14, in “Street Heat Sole & Style Expo” events, and who used to run baseball-card shows in the 1990s.


·        Would you buy things online, sight unseen, for large amounts of money?

·        Do you think sneakers will become bigger than baseball cards?  Why or why not?



At the Manhattan event last month, one young vendor turned away $98,000 in cash for his Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October sneakers, designed   by Kanye West and signed by the artist himself onstage at the Nassau Coliseum in February.


“I know I could buy a house with this kind of money,” said the vendor, Jonathan Rodriguez, 18, of Deer Park, N.Y., who said he planned to enlist in the Air Force.


“But I’m a huge Kanye West fan. I can just work to get the money. The only way I’m selling them is if there is a reason that I need to sell or I’m offered life-changing money.”


·        Do you think $98,000 for a pair of shoes is life-changing money?  Why or why not? 

·        Why do you think Rodriguez turned away a vendor that wanted to buy his shoes, signed by Kanye West, for that amount?





What draws kids to becoming “Sneakerheads?” Do you think this trend will last a long time?  Why or why not?  Would you invest your own money to purchase and trade expensive tennis shoes?  Why or why not? 



Newspaper-related CBA activity:  U.S. Policy


How the United States government interacts with the world affects people across the globe.  Analyze and evaluate the causes and effects of US foreign policy on people in the United States and across the world.


·        Using The Seattle Times e-edition, find an article from this week that deals with world politics or foreign policy. 

·        What are the main points of view from someone living in that particular country?  How is that “view” similar and different than your own opinion, regarding the specific issue the article is discussing?

·        Why is it important to study and learn about foreign policy?  How does it help you understand the world we live in, using current issues and events?  




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