For years, people would always ask me if I’d spin up a brick and mortar thing off of Sneakernews or something else, and I’d always say no. But then, the idea of Stadium Goods was brought to me by my friends John and Jed. When they explained the concept to me, I knew I had to jump onboard. The elevated approach they were bringing to consignment, the hospitality angle, the customer-first philosophy - it all made me go, “oh my god, you have to please let me in. I’ll offer up any of my lowly talents if you let me in.” They obviously wanted me in the mix, somehow, but I insisted and practically begged to be involved at the highest level possible.
So, SG is just a really cool spot with a great team behind it. As a lifelong collector, I love seeing how all of the gear and sneakers are presented to people who come in. We try to make sure that the staff is as welcoming and as helpful as possible - more often than not, with sneaker and streetwear stores, you don’t really get that. At the end of the day, though, Stadium Goods is where I get to hang out with my friends - why wouldn’t we want customers to feel the same way?
It’s a relief that I finally have a place that’s not my office where I can tell people to swing by, especially if they’re visiting from out of town. SG is ultimately a nice gathering place, which is what I think good independent businesses tend to be for their communities. To say that I’m extremely proud of Stadium Goods would be an understatement. I feel like I’m finally doing exactly what I wanted to be doing for a long time.
Kam Hing Coffee Shop
Kam Hing is an old school spot that’s been around forever. It’s a coffee shop that’s renowned for its sponge cakes. One of my earliest offices was on the Lower East Side, right across the street from Kam Hing. Naturally, it became the team’s go-to spot for coffee, iced tea, snacks, spongecake, wifey cakes, melon cakes, you name it. I forget when it happened, but at some point we realized that the owner’s son, Chris (who plays a big operational role at Kam Hing), was a sneaker guy. So that allowed us to become friendly with each other and, of course, we realized we actually had a lot of friends in common.
Like I said, a nice thing about independent businesses is how they help you expand your circle. Chris has always been great with introducing me to random people who’ve turned out to be great friends and connects. One time, I was grabbing an iced tea and he goes, “Yu-Ming, you gotta meet this guy. He’s the community manager at the 5th Precinct. If Sneakernews ever does events or whatever, you should link up.” At the time, I hadn’t even considered that Sneakernews would ever get into that, so I just filed the guy in the back of my head and kept it moving. Fast forward to 2016 - we have DJ Khaled on the cover of our print magazine and we’re about to do this event at Stadium Goods for the launch. We hadn’t thought it through, but as we started realizing how big Khaled’s presence had gotten, one of his guys got in touch and begged us to be really thorough with security on-site. Things had apparently gotten out of hand in Dallas at an Urban Outfitters event with him or something a few weeks earlier. So, Chris and the 5th Precinct guy come to mind as soon as it dawns on everyone that we have to give the cops fair warning about this thing. I call Chris up, he reconnects us, it turns out that one of the main guys at the 5th is a sneakerhead, and we end up having one of the most positive, smoothly run events in SG’s history. I mean, Howard and Mercer were overflowing with people, but it went off without a hitch.
Oh, and the other awesome thing about Kam Hing is that the Mexican guys who work there all speak Cantonese. So you’ll have these grandmas coming in and they’ll order in Chinese and the Mexican guys will keep the conversation going. New York.
West New Malaysian Restaurant
So this spot is right in the middle of the infamous Chinatown tunnel that cuts across Elizabeth and Bowery. Obviously, you don’t get too many tourists or food reviewers in here, which is great. I’ve been coming here since I was 15. And, basically, I just never stopped eating here. I’ll come by at least once a month, probably more. Lunch, dinner. Chinese food is my main thing, but sometimes when I want some kind of outside flavor, New Malaysian has dishes that are close enough to home while bringing the remix. It’s one of my favorite places to eat and certainly the place I’ve been a regular at for the longest. Get the roti and wet-style ho fun with the raw egg on top. Oh, and the Hainan chicken.
Why is it important to support independent businesses?
Man, because I know what it is to start and run your own independent business! I started Sneakernews with no external financing. I respect the hustle, I respect people who do what they need to do and work their ass off to make their own way. All of the people who work at every spot I mentioned - these guys service their communities. They give something back; they keep neighborhoods and cultures like Chinatown healthy. If something like McDonald’s or Burger King took this space over I don’t know what I’d do. For me, it’s all about the lowkey joints that are neighborhood icons. Authenticity and hustle - that’s why you should support independent businesses.