If you’re looking to pick up a rare pair of sneakers, you’re probably already familiar with the sneaker marketplace app GOAT. But while the app has millions of users, the local company’s debut pop-up gallery — dubbed The Greatest — is a much more intimate affair. Rather than collecting hundreds of iconic and important kicks for visitors to check out, the small Culver City space simply hosts a couple dozen pairs all centered around a unifying theme.

“We wanted to create a space to really celebrate the individuals, boutiques and artists from L.A., specifically who have really shaped pop culture and paved the way for sneakers everywhere,” says Liz Goodno, GOAT's communications director. “It’s not just about the stories behind the shoes but also the individuals who are coming and speaking here. Everyone involved here has a connection to L.A., whether they were born here, started their business here or came here to conceptualize the shoe that they launched here.”

“GOAT is such a clean app that we wanted the experience of the pop-up to use the same minimal design,” adds Diane Abapo, editorial director for GOAT. “We picked 25 shoes that really speak for themselves and are related to L.A. — which is how we should open up The Greatest pop-up. It’s a chance for people to see the sneakers that contributed to the history of L.A. through different collaborations — from rare sneakers to more accessible ones. Aside from that, it’s also the workshops and panel discussions, and it’s a chance for our users to come face to face with the GOAT team.”

Credit: Courtesy of GOAT

Credit: Courtesy of GOAT

Over the next few months, GOAT’s pop-up will rotate its selection from shoes connected to Los Angeles to a few other cities and topics. Aside from the sneakers themselves, the pop-up will host a variety of names in the sneaker community — from cleaning expert Jason Markk to professional skateboarder turned shoe specialist Jimmy Gorecki to iconic customizer Dominic Chambrone (better known as “the Shoe Surgeon”) — for visitors to meet, listen to and interact with.

“We wanted to pick a broad range of individuals for exclusive speaking discussions at the pop-up,” Abapo says. “We have a lot of creatives in the industry — all based in L.A. — telling their stories and talking about everything from the struggles of a medium-format photographer to skateboarders to designers. We want to create this story and this dialogue that your idea of who’s into sneakers isn’t who you thought it would be. They’re people who wouldn’t usually be seen in this kind of spotlight for sneakers.”

But while GOAT’s users and fans may be most interested in meeting some of the sneaker industry folks and celebrities coming through the gallery, the folks behind the company are most interested in meeting the people who’ve made them a success in the first place. For most apps (and other online companies), users are just a statistic that can make or break the bottom line, but having a pop-up in the middle of a trendy area in Culver City means that everyone from the newest employee to founders Eddy Lu and Daishin Sugano will get to meet the buyers and sellers who effectively pay their bills.

“We’ve found with the people who use the app, it’s every ethnicity, every location, every background, it’s about so much more than just a pair of shoes,” Abapo says. “We’re starting this off where we started in L.A., but after this we don’t really know what’s next. This is our first chance to really put a face to the people who use GOAT.”

Credit: Courtesy of GOAT

Credit: Courtesy of GOAT

Over the last few years, marketplace apps and other online selling mediums like GOAT and StockX have become wildly popular within the sneaker community. But for anyone who’s been into sneakers long enough to remember when Kanye West was still designing kicks for Nike (or Louis Vuitton, for that matter), the notion of a reliable marketplace just for sneakers is still in its infancy. As people who’ve primarily purchased shoes — or just about anything else — through social media, eBay, Craigslist or other online methods and marketplaces, they know the authentication struggle that ended up birthing GOAT.

“One of our co-founders ended up purchasing a pair of fake [Air] Jordans on eBay, and he really didn’t like that feeling,” Goodno says. “It was a huge hassle to try to return it, so what we do is employ a ship-to-verify model. A seller lists their sneakers on GOAT — they keep their inventory until it sells — and we help them with the suggested prices. As soon as it sells, they ship it to us, and we have a team of authentication experts from Adidas to Jordans, and then if it’s all good, we ship it to the buyer. It protects both the buyer and the seller. It’s the safest way to buy and sell.”

Of course, GOAT is looking to do more than just show people rare sneakers like the iconic Nike Zoom Kobe VI “Grinch” or the newer collaborations from the city’s finest rappers like Tyler, the Creator; Kendrick Lamar; and Kanye West. From the collection to the programming to the motivational quote on the floor, The Greatest wants to inspire the next generation of sneaker culture — and pretty much anyone else who’s looking to learn from everything offered.

“Ultimately, I think we want to inspire people by showcasing the amazing sneakers that have come out of this city and the individuals that have influenced the broader sneaker culture from L.A.,” Goodno says. “Through teaching them about this, we hope to inspire the next generation of sneaker influencers. We hope that people come to the pop-up and learn something that helps propel them further into whatever industry they’re looking to get into — whether it’s sneakers, fashion, design or something completely different.”

The Greatest will be open at Platform, 8830 Washington Blvd., Suite 101, Culver City; through Dec. 31, 11 a.m. -7 p.m. daily, with the exception of holidays and closings; free.

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