89 East Cherry Street
Carlos Trujillo had a good job, but he didn’t like it. Knowing he had to make a change he came up with the crazy idea to fit out an RV and sell sneakers as he roamed and ventured around the region. As he fantasized about this solution to his dilemma, he unconsciously positioned himself for a radical change by paying down his debt, and keeping alive the vision of an alternative to his current situation. Re-enforcing the old adage when your heart isn’t into something it shows, he was laid off. For about two months he half-heartedly looked around for work, but was unable to move forward and commit to anything. His wife finally snapped him out of his lethargy by saying, “you’re not looking for a job, you’re not looking for a storefront, you’ve got to do something!”
Already a passionate collector of vintage sneakers and actively thrifting, he had solid and varied sales experience and had mastered a universal customer service language. Recognizing that the sneaker resale market was a billion dollar industry with a large pool of collectors, he decided to open his first shop in Elizabeth stocking it with close to 300 pairs of his personal collection of vintage sneakers. He bypassed the RV but kept the inspiration and the name, and RV became a reality. He gave himself a year to make the business successful.
Observing a lack of foot traffic at his store in Elizabeth, a friend suggested moving the shop to Rahway. His initial reaction was “Why?”, but when he came to visit, he clearly saw Cherry Street as the epicenter of the downtown. An empty storefront was available at a reasonable rent, and so moved RV to Rahway. He’s going into his fourth year in town, and business is good.
Social media is his primary marketing tool, but most of his revenue comes in off the street. Once a collector discovers a hard to find sneaker, that opens the door for Carlos to personalize the interaction, and develop a solid relationship. Anyone who has experienced great customer service knows the value and typically becomes a loyal customer.
Most small business owners know; building a solid customer base depends on taking risks, evaluating what works and pivoting if something doesn’t work. Carlos does his research by continually studying market trends, evaluating his competition and learning from companies that he admires. He assures his customers that his merchandise is in the best possible condition so the right sneaker lands on the right foot.