Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

GetEmKicks brings sneaker culture to Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

One step inside the shop, an evolving sneaker scene welcomes customers.

The interior walls are filled with kicks in various colors and designs. A wide collection of t-shirts is displayed for sale in middle of the room. An array of ballcaps with the logo “Supreme” catches your eye. Sitting in one corner is a Key Master machine, with sneakers inside, playing a funky tune. You look about and take it all in. A BE@RBRICK doll. Dragon Ball figures. A Michael Jordan doll.

It’s like a dream come true for sneakerheads.

GetEmKicks is a popular sneaker shop near Kadena Air Base’s Gate 2 that opened in 2016 under the slogan “We are for the Community, By the Community.” It is still a new face in this local shopping area where old and new stores coexist. But it’s one its owners hope will have a lasting impression on the community.

“A lot of the things you see here are things you can’t necessarily see around Okinawa. We have a wide selection of all types of shoes,” says co-owner Kris Drone, a former U.S. airman who was still in the Air Force shop when the opened. “We bring back a nostalgia by being able to recreate history, bring it back. We have shoes in here you haven’t seen since the 1980s. Some shoes date back to 1970s. Most iconic is the Jordans. We have the original Jordan 11s that he wore in shops. So, there’s a piece of history in the facility.”

Prior to the store’s opening, GetEmKicks was dedicated to online sales by “helping every single person that we came in contact with get their pairs at the best price possible,” according to its website.

Now, the shop has evolved to be a real-life happy place for sneakerheads. GetEmKicks calls itself “SNEAKER DISNEY WORLD.” The shop may not be big, but a fun vibe definitely flows there.

“Our shop is probably different from anything you see across the world or even in Japan,” said Drone. “We want you to be positive. It’s a whole experience walking in.”

Drone’s words exude his exceptional passion for sneakers, and he wants to make it clear that GetEmKicks is not just for sneakerheads. It’s also a place for people who don’t know anything about sneakers or street culture.

When asked for an advice for beginners, Drone said, “Everyone has different lifestyles.”

“You may be a casual worker. You may be a basketball player. You may be just a person in tune with fashion. Once I understand what your lifestyle is, I make sure to educate and direct you in the proper shoes that meet your needs,” Drone continued. “I study feet enough to understand what a person needs … make sure whatever shoe they are getting, is gonna work best for them in the long run. I’m not gonna push a shoe on you that isn’t your style.”

That approach of spreading his love of sneakers without pushing a customer into a sale is probably a big reason GetEmKicks recently opened another store in Naha. The shop in Naha is geared more toward apparel while the one near Kadena is focused on sneakers. Drone hopes his shops continue growing as cultural hubs in the community.

“This is a nice focal point for people to come and see what it’s about,” said Drone. “We hope that you come check us out, even if you don’t have to buy anything. Just come out and have great time.”

GPS Coordinates: N 26.336273, E 127.799595
Hours: 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Closed on Wednesdays) 
Tel: 098-959-3032

GetEmKicks Naha
GPS Coordinates: N 26.214177, E 127.685775
Hours: noon - 8 p.m. (Closed on Wednesdays)

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