Resale Sneaker Retailer SAFE Opens 4 Stores in Canada with Plans for More: Interview


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Retailer Terrell Maxwell has some lofty ambitions for his sneaker company.

“I want to be the Footlocker of sneaker resale,” said Maxwell, owner and founder of SAFE (Sneakers Available For Everyone). “I want to become a big brand – have lots of stores. Right now I’m developing a plan, building a brand store concept.

“Once we’re done our concept design then we’ll be looking at where exactly we’re trying to expand. We’re trying to do a really big expansion – to more than 10 stores. We’re working on Canada expansion, the US.”

SAFE at CF Lime Ridge (Image: SAFE)
SAFE at CF Lime Ridge (Image: SAFE)

The brand first started as an online business in November. 

“If you look at our logo, the S has like a lock on it and a shoe in the middle. Essentially to show that we sell authentic, verified products and we’re safe to buy from,” said Maxwell.

“I started the online sneaker marketplace and that wasn’t doing so well and then when I converted to the stores it picked up a lot because you also have in-store traffic and you have brand trust and stuff like that that you don’t receive when you’re just trying to do an online only business.”

The first store opened on November 1 at CF Fairview Mall in Toronto followed by the opening in CF Lime Ridge Mall November 15 in Hamilton, and recently in CF Shops in Don Mills in Toronto. CF Masonville in London is coming up soon as the newest store.

SAFE at CF Markville (Image: SAFE)
SAFE at CF Markville (Image: SAFE)

“We are an online company but we also have that in-store experience which a lot of online shoe marketplaces don’t offer. They don’t offer the omnichannel. That’s something we offer that nobody offers,” said Maxwell.

“When you’re looking to buy a certain sneaker – all of our sneakers are rare – in a size 9 you just can’t walk into any store and get that. If we don’t have it or it’s out of stock, we always have it in our warehouse because we have the online marketplace.”

Maxwell said the sneaker market is growing every day and is expected to grow by three times in the next four years. 

SAFE at CF Don Mills (Image: SAFE)
SAFE at CF Don Mills (Image: SAFE)

“People always want the most in stuff, the hottest items. People see their favourite celebrity wearing a shoe that we sell and then the price goes up. They want to get it. It’s all like a culture,” he said. “Sometimes shoe prices go up in December, they come down in January and they skyrocket in the summer time.

“Sometimes you might buy a shoe that’s $300 and then it goes up to $3,000. Sneakers is almost like an investment, in a sense, depending on how good you take care of them.”

Jeff Berkowitz and Jennifer Bowyer of Aurora Realty Consultants are working with SAFE on its store expansion.

Additional Photos For SAFE at CF Fairview Mall

Additional Photos For SAFE at CF Don Mills

Additional Photos For SAFE at CF Markville

Additional Photos For SAFE at CF Lime Ridge

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.


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