The store often hosts listening parties that showcases the shoppers who go there, like the Black Friday live broadcast with Gray Rizzy from Shade 45. Photo by Noah Washington/The Atlanta Voice

Born out of a family love for collecting sneakers, First Class Sneaks is the embodiment of that love. Brought to life during the pandemic- a time when businesses were struggling to survive, Kierra Wiggerstaff, store owner, along with her partner and co-owner, Travis Belton, wanted to begin to build generational wealth in their family. 

“COVID-19 was a difficult period for the world. Families were torn apart by death, broken- marriages, and isolated children- then the fact that so many people lost their jobs Wiggerstaff said. “It was tough. Like most, we were forced to pivot in every way possible. A part of our individual pivots were to embrace more of “who” we are and “what” we love so that we can start allowing passion/purpose to produce success.”

She added, “During our daily facetimes, it was evident that we were merely existing and not fulfilling the purpose God had for us collectively. Isolation and the lonely heart reminded us of the need to live life on our own terms doing what we desire.”

The obstacle of COVID-19, was no mere mountain to overcome-  there is also the daunting reality that sneakers have always been dominated by the male image. “Times have changed,” she says. “To date, there’s an equal amount of men-to-women ratio who share a love for sneakers. So pressure? No. However, making sure that we have a fair amount of events catered to both genders is crucial. It also helps that our core team is composed of three men and three women. So consumers get the best of both worlds and opinions during each visit into the store.”

There are hundreds of sneaker stores in metro Atlanta so Wiggerstaff contributed her experience as a journalist and radio host to help with the store’s PR campaign. The customer experience is a big part of a store’s relationship with the public and the shopping experience, but First Class Sneaks isn’t just a store- it is an experience, says Wiggerstaff. Often hosting listening parties and showcasing the shoppers who go there, such as their Black Friday live broadcast with Gray Rizzy from Shade 45, Wiggerstaff has taken the flash that the world of sneakers is and turned it into her own. “’I’ve become the store’s publicist, unbeknownst to the team,” she joked. “It was important to me that we incorporate music/entertainment heavily into the store as a result of entertainers being a part of our core consumers, which of course also helps with marketing.”

So our “Meet & Greets”, in-store private listening lounges, in-store live broadcast, etc, have all become increasingly popular and this success partly stems from my love/experience in journalism & radio hosting,” Wiggerstaff said.

The future is bright for the family-owned sneaker store. Wiggerstaff runs several brands and their hope is to bring recognition to Emory Point, with the main goal to become a part of the top five sneaker plugs within the city of Atlanta, while also forging great relationships with elite clientele who will then become consistent consumers.

If you don’t know what you are looking for sneaker-wise, you can never go wrong with the classic Air Force One or you could even check out one of  Wiggerstaff’s personal favorites, the Jordan 1, she recommended.

“It’s an undeniable classic style, but recently I’ve grown to fall in love with Jordan 4’s due to comfort,” Wiggerstaff said. “I have a flat/wide foot and fortunately, Jordan 4’s provide you with the comfort needed without the bulky look. I’m also a mom who happens to run several different brands, so comfort is definitely number one on my list.”

First Class Sneaks is located at 1540 Avenue Place Unit C-140 in Atlanta, Ga.