Recovering Sneaker Addict


[A Guest Post by Hubert!]

Hi, my name is Hubert and I am a recovering sneaker addict.  (Hi Hubert.)

For as long as I can remember, sneakers have been the highest form of visual sophistication for me. I have never really been into clothes and accessories, because they are far too seasonal.  Living in Michigan, it is too costly to stay sharp for all four seasons of the year.  If I lived in Southern California or Florida, I may be a different person.  Thing is, I am a Michigander [through and through] and I can rock my Nike Airs year-round. I won’t lie. I also have a problem with vinyl records, so I figured I needed something that would accentuate my never-ending hunt for musical treasure.  I do a lot of standing and walking, might as well look good while doing it, right? And so it goes…


For the last four years or so, I have been coping with an abusive relationship with an enabler. Usually, people in my shoes would leave such entities nameless, but I must out them.  I must out them today.  And by them, I mean Burn Rubber Sneaker Boutique in Royal Oak aka The Dope Spot.  Burn Rubber was the cause of many of my late night shakes and twitching when I hadn’t laced up a fresh pair of Dunks in over a month. Boy, do I love the smell of a brand new pair of Nike’s.  Ugh, I should stop before I go and relapse.
Being in existence for about 4 years, Burn Rubber was the only shop around with Nike’s Indie Energy and Quick Strike accounts, which meant they were the only ones to carry some of the most limited edition sneakers for the state of Michigan. Since the explosion of the sneaker craze, more shops have opened shops in various corners of our mitten-ous state, but Burn Rubber has made their mark indelible in the sneaker community [even with the non-marking soles]. Currently owned by Rick Williams and Roland “Ro” Coit since February 2007, two self-proclaimed sneaker freaks themselves, Burn Rubber has sponsored several social and charity events around Metro Detroit.


One might wonder what types of individuals would be crazy about athletic shoes.  Heck, one probably wants to know how a sneaker boutique can even stay in business in Michigan.  Apparently, sneaker collecting is not as small of a niche market as you would think.  According to Rick and Ro, their customers are “a mix of musicians, soccer moms, athletes and executives.”  Burn Rubber initially only sold “reissued” sneakers of years’ past, which had folks buying up shoes they may have had as teens or early adulthood.  For me personally, I do not even mess with a shoe that originally came out after 1996.  Now the sneaker industry has proliferated in such a way that all sorts of new brands, styles and designs have come on the scene, breeding a new group of sneaker lovers.


The atmosphere in Burn Rubber’s quaint 680 sq. ft. space is a quaint one.  In the store, you will find brand staples like Nike, Adidas and Reebok, along with new shoe brands like Alife and clothing brands like Crooks & Castles and 10 Deep.  You will find regulars lounging on the benches, chatting with the owners while assisting inquisitive shoppers on a potential purchase.  Such an environment makes you feel like you are a part of something, even if you are not a “sneaker head.”  If you go into the shop now, you will see a recent wallpaper job by world-renowned urban artist Tristan Eaton, mastermind / founder of Thunderdog Studios.
I could go on and on about my love/hate relationship with Burn Rubber, but it might trigger urges to spend funds that I really should not.  I will say that Burn Rubber is definitely a part of the youthful exuberance that makes Royal Oak a great place to be.  You should do yourself a favor and stop in their shop.  Rick and Ro are very helpful and they make a point to let you know that they appreciate your business, even if their grins come off a bit devilish – but I digress.
I want to thank you for listening.  I have been clean for about 8 months now.  I am taking it one Air Max, I mean one day at a time.

Burn Rubber is located at:
202 West Fourth Street
Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

You can contact them at (248) 543-3000, by email at burnrubberdetroit [at] gmail [dot] com and/or check out their  website: BurnRubberDetroit

Best regards,
Hubert Sawyers III

This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan

  • Frank P

    Gotta work on formatting! LOTS of text, NO photos… content is interesting, but it’s not easy on the eyes.

  • Eric Brown

    Thanks for the feedback Frank. We are learning as we go here, and appreciate the comment

  • Hubert

    Photos in the (e-)mail, Eric!

  • Frank P


  • M.O.S.

    Dope write-up and a great store.

  • Brando

    Can non-fashionista types feel comfortable in this store, or is it a kind of fetish place? Great post.

  • Hubert

    The environment is definitely inviting. Sneaker geeks are not like record collectors. We are not rude snobs. If you don’t know about how many pairs of laces come with a standard pair of Air Max 95s, we won’t hold that against you. The good guys at Burn Rubber want your business, so they are not going to make you feel like a n00b.
    See, sneaker collectors are a proud bunch, but we’d much rather project our pride from our feet than from the lips.

  • Brando

    Fair ’nuff.

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  • Quitting the Sneaker Game

    It’s really hard to quit the sneaker game. many of us get hooked up because there’s this weird competition going on around sneakerheads on who can break the most necks. I guess I have come to realize that that kind of satisfaction is full of naivete and just shallow. Add to that excitement and fleeting sensation when you were able to get a very coveted pair that the rest of the crowd couldn’t get for themselves. People have this desire to standout. To get noticed. It’s like we want to be recognized and verified by the people around you and tell you that “Hey, I see you there.” But this is just a big trap that will lure you to a vicious cycle of endless buying/reselling, just to cop the latest pair, hoping to still be the coolest kid in town. I am tired of this pressure to look cool and please people. I ain’t gonna please anybody in the long run if this is the only kind of satisfaction I am looking for. What I want is to live life to the fullest, DO the things that I love (and not just buy and HAVE the things I love), and experience a variety of things that will be stored into your memory for eternity.

    I realized that what I really want to do is to travel. Travel far and wide to the farthest places that I could see. It is just ironic that what you put on your feet to help you move is the same thing that will prevent you from traveling far away. I guess I have to set my priorities straight, and think about where to spend my limited money. Shoes are just a temporary thing. Traveling and its memories will be with you wherever you go. I need to spend my money to grasp on those opportunities where I can free myself from the shackles of this city and be with myself or with very special people who can join me in my journeys. I have decided to stop putting money on shoes that will just provide me temporary happiness. My spending on shoes prevent me from achieving the better and bigger things in life, in which for me is traveling around the world. From now on, I will focus my energies, dream, goals and finances on realizing my vision to be a seasoned traveler and photographer. I want to be in many different places and I realized that I don’t need the fanciest or coolest shoes because I will make them dirty anyway. Now that is real, absolute fun. Peace.