Meet Dave the Sneaker Guy: Cleaning Sneakers Around the World

By Rachel George


The death of Nipsey Husslewas a tragedy for our community, but his words have served as inspiration for aspiring black entrepreneurs everywhere. Last week, entrepreneur Dave the Sneaker Guy was in Virginia juggling cleaning sneakers for a client and being a full-time parent. His son was wailing in the background, wanting his dad to take care of one of his many needs—diaper change, food, being held—while he still had to cater to customers. This week, Dave heads to Charlotte, another stop on his sneaker cleaning tour around the world.

“None of this was planned but it’s happening,” Dave said. “It’s s a lot but this is what I wanted. If I don’t have a lot on my plate, then what am I really doing? You gotta expect certain things to happen when being an entrepreneur.”

I remember Dave and his friends would walk the halls of Virgil I. Grissom Middle School 226 in South Jamaica, Queens, wearing the latest Jordans or Nikes that just came out. I have to admit that I was jealous, wishing I could get new sneakers as often as they would rock them. He spent his mornings with his brother cleaning his shoes. Toothbrush, cleaner, small circles, you get it. At one point, he had over 30 pairs of shoes, before giving them to the homeless.

In 2017, he quit his job at TGI Fridays and became the face of a local sneaker restoration shop in his neighborhood. After unforeseen differences, he decided to part ways and pursue his own business. Since then, Dave has traveled up and down the east coast hitting every major city including Cleveland, Chicago, Indiana, New Orleans, Georgia and more, offering a unique sneaking cleaning service unlike any other. You can have your sneakers cleaned in just a few hours, without leaving the comfort of your own home. Always in go mode, Dave doesn’t think twice before he hops in the car or on the bus, headed to the next destination.

Dave always knew he’d be successful in his own lane but wasn’t always quite sure what that lane was. “I’m just a hustler at the end of the day. I found a lane where I can make money and I stuck with it,” he said. Just two months ago, he was booked in Philadelphia by his friend and former Georgetown University Marcus Derrickson and the rest of his teammates.

“My business is doing good because this is something people have never seen before. I’m setting the tone and I’m state to state wit it,”  he said in his New York hustler tone.

Dave pictured with Georgetown Hoya teammates, including Marcus Derrickson on the far left.

Through word of mouth, social media and vlogging his travel experiences, Dave has been able to build a healthy following for his brand and an even heftier clientele list, with customers as far as California and more recently, London. Inspired by Nipsey Hussle and wanting to give back, Dave plans to change the lives of everyone around him one person at a time, starting with a future entrepreneur in the making, his son.

“I want my son to see his pops grinding like a mf and to know that I made a name for myself,” he said. “A good name, not a name in the streets, not for killing nobody and I’m giving back too.”

Need your sneakers cleaned or repaired? Are your shoes talking or leaning sideways on the curb? Book with Dave the Sneaker Guy before his price goes up.

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Rachel George

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