Denzel Carter didn’t want to spend his life in a cubicle.
It was even worse when the 30-year-old from Arnold figured out how much of his time, money and life he lost commuting to a job — and working for someone else.
The covid pandemic, and being furloughed, helped Carter go all-in on what he wants to do most: buy and sell sneakers.
“The job I want is to work for myself,” he said. “I want to be my own boss.”
People will be able to check the place out earlier, on Saturday, when he’ll open up for a preview on Small Business Saturday. A new event, the New Ken Shop Small Crawl, is expected to draw people to New Kensington between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“I’m excited to open,” he said. “I’m excited to do this for my city.”
New shoes, ‘deadstock’, vintage clothing
Carter will be carrying new shoes for men, women and kids, along with hand-picked vintage clothes, such as jerseys. He may add used shoes.
In the world of high-end sneakers and other fashion, “deadstock” can be highly desired. It refers to products that have been discontinued and become valuable for their exclusivity.
Carter got a look at the building when he came down for the first Fridays on Fifth in July. The building had previously housed a vape shop, and in 2017 was used as a filming location for the movie “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” starring Cate Blanchett.
“I was very interested in it,” he said. With its display cases, “It looked perfect for a shoe store.”
Carter said he loves the building’s art deco style.
“It’s a very nostalgic building,” he said. The owners “asked me to take very good care of it. I’ll do that with pleasure. The cool look of the building goes hand-in-hand with what I’m trying to do here.”
Although he graduated from Highlands in 2010, Carter is a New Ken-Arnold man, having attended Highlands for only his senior year. He went on to Robert Morris University, first earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and then a master’s in organizational leadership.
He worked for BNY Mellon, which he left to work in management for GNC.
“I realized I’m not a cubicle kind of person,” he said. “I need to be around people.”
While working at GNC, he got into the world of buying and reselling shoes — where, for example, he can get a pair for $250 that resells for $1,000.
He realized shoes were what he needed to be doing when he found himself not counting the hours he spent on it. Then he found himself furloughed from GNC, on unemployment and needing to figure out his next step.
“I had to make a decision about what kind of man I wanted to be,” he said. “I just chased my dream of being my own boss.”
He plans to be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday. Carter said his friends and family will be helping him run the store. Eventually, he’d like to hire kids from the community.
“They’re the future,” he said. “The kids understand the shoe stuff more than their parents.”
His plans also include buying, selling and trading shoes, and offering layaway so people can buy shoes that otherwise might be out of their reach.
Getting away from New Kensington was among Carter’s reasons for going to college. But, like his career path, that attitude, too, has changed.
“It took me until 30 to realize the best thing to do was be a part of it,” he said. “The store gives me a way not to run away from New Kensington. I want to be able to help it as best I can.”