Principal turned shoe salesman opening high-end sneaker boutique in West Chester Twp.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Tony Howard started as a high school principal and is now selling shoes. High-end shoes. Very high-end shoes.

It was 2020 and Howard was working as a principal at a school in Greensboro, NC when he was forced to work from home. He had already been in the sneaker business, but thought it was time to be more entrepreneurial.

“I’ve always been a sneakerhead,” said Howard, who has a healthy sneaker collection. “I was selling shoes online and at local consignment stores. I would take my shoes to their stores and they would take a percentage of the sale. Then I grew out of that and thought I can do this myself.”

Howard identified a retail space in a local plaza in Greensboro and opened his first Function Boutique. He is opening his second location Nov. 4 in the Streets of West Chester shopping center.

“Function Boutique is a different approach to the sneaker world,” Howard said. “We have a lot of limited edition, hard to find sneakers. We do the same with high end fashion.”

The store is approximately 3,000-square feet and carries brands such as Nike, Adidas, Moncler, Burberry and Vertabrae, among others.

“It is a really niche market,” Howard said. “We only sell things that have high resale value. Anything that has high demand and an influencer behind it, there is a market there.”

Howard focuses on sneakers with limited-edition releases or sneakers in high demand such as early release Air Jordans, the Kobe Bryant Nike Collection, the Adidas Yeezy models or whatever becomes the next hot trend. The store has sneakers in sizes ranging from toddler to adult men size 15.

The Greensboro location has been a success and allowed Howard to step away from his career as a principal. But Howard kept his educational spirit by employing former students and helping them learn about business.

“Being able to give young aspiring entrepreneurs a model to be successful,” Howard said. “I was seeing kids who worked at my store, opening their own stores. I want people to understand there are opportunities to be an entrepreneur.”

Originally from East St. Louis, Ill., Howard attended college in Illinois and then moved with his wife to Greensboro. Howard, his wife and their 5 year old daughter moved to Liberty Twp. in June of this year.

Function Boutique’s grand opening will feature raffles and giveaways.

“It is an opportunity to see the place, see the collection and make a purchase if there is something you want,” Howard said. “It will be a great experience and be a place for all things sneakers and streetwear.”

How to go

What: Function Boutique

Where: 9444 Waterfront Drive, Suite 9444, West Chester Twp.

When: Grand opening Nov. 4

Online: @functionboutiqueoh on Instagram

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