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A Royals sneaker plus.

royals_back_2500When we think shops in Chicago instantly STA, Phli, Jugrnaut, Solemates, Uprise and ect.. and the neighborhoods that in which they are located in come to mind but recently underneath the radar Aroyals sneaker plus has recently surfaced in your not so typical neighborhood. I discovered “A Royals” as I walked out of a Puerto Rican restaurant named Ponce and saw it across the street. I became instantly intrigued what lied behind the doors where I met Anthony Arroyo of 24, years old who opened the shop late November in who is self owned and operated in the Kelvyn Park neighborhood. As I walk in and have a heart to heart in-depth conversation  about music,fashion and a little bit about him and his establishment with Mr. Arroyo.


When we think shops in Chicago instantly STA, Phli, Jugrnaut, Solemates, Uprise and ect.. and the neighborhoods that in which they are located in come to mind but recently underneath the radar Aroyals sneaker plus has recently surfaced in your not so typical neighborhood. I discovered “A Royals” as I walked out of a Puerto Rican restaurant named Ponce and saw it across the street. I became instantly intrigued what lied behind the doors where I met Anthony Arroyo of 24, years old who opened the shop late November in who is self owned and operated in the Kelvyn Park neighborhood. As I walk in and have a heart to heart in-depth conversation  about music,fashion and a little bit about him and his establishment with Mr. Arroyo.

(AR: Anthony Arroyo
THA: The Homeboy Andres)

THA: How did you get into fashion?

AR: Well…My first job was when I was 15. It was at the Athlete’s Foot in Gurnee actually, and I wasn’t supposed to be working because you’re supposed to be 16 to work there you know but they didn’t know I was 15 and by the time they found out they were like well you’re such a good worker so I guess we’ll keep you. That’s when I got to know the different sneaker culture like Nike, Reebok and Adidas to the lower name like Saucony and stuff like that. I left that job to go to UIC for college for engineering and before I finished I was just a semester short of my electrical engineering and the opportunity to open up my own store so I just had to take it. Some of my friends finished their engineering degrees and started their jobs and they just weren’t really liking it as much as we all thought we would. So I just thought you know it’s a great opportunity to open up and be my own boss and um… the fashion the tee’s and stuff like that I kind of brought that in to fill up the store you know. My main focus was to, kind of bring different sneakers that aren’t really out there right now like not so “ foot lockery”. Like I really don’t want to sell Jordan’s and I’m trying to stay away from Nikes.

THA: Why’s that?

AR: I just feel like, this is what I tell people… back when I was young they would drop a Jordan like maybe once a year, you know?Like this is the new Jordan and so it’s like Jordan’s would sell out but now I feel like Jordan’s like they kind of sold out because it’s like they come out with a different shoe every month in a new color and people don’t really realize that like and buy it up oh yea whatever and it’s kind of gotten away from like….reeboks

THA: The norm?

AR: Right. Not only that but it’s like the market is so concentrated with them now you know an it’s like when I walk down the street that’s all I see Jordan’s and air force ones. Then there’s all these brands like Puma, Addidas and Reebok and some of these new independent sneaker brands they are just offering such different original and unique options that people aren’t really giving them a look. I think people right now are just buying Jordan’s just because they’re Jordan’s you know everyone in high school is wearing Jordan’s. So I’m going to wear Jordan’s and I think if they step into my store and they can find their own style and their own look and that’s kind of why I wanted to open up a store like this.

THA: What brands do you carry?

AR: Majestic select which they make jerseys they are now making fitted tees local celebrity, threadless. Right now I’m looking for other different variations I had to open up so quickly because I opened up at the end of November and if I would have waited any longer I would have missed Christmas. We carry Puma , Addias, Reebok,Saucony Schmack which people seem to know a lot about them and they seem to sell like crazy here it’s surprising its good. I got some Filas and they have that nostalgia I’m thinking greedy genius but I’m not done getting my accounts. There are so many t shirt brands and it’s hard to distinguish them so I’m doing my homework right now some more street wear we have winter gear gloves hats and Goorin bros. Their caps are designed by LA graffiti artists and possible New Eras but they want me to be open for a few more months.

THA: Oh really? I’m a big fitted guy so I’m happy to hear that.

AR: Thanks.

THA: The name of the store is A Royals. Can you elaborate the meaning of the name and its origin?

AR: Well actually it’s a play on words of my last name. My last name is Arroyo so I spelled it like A royals but if you just say it it’s my last name. Like, I’m Mexican and it’s funny because Mexicans name their businesses like Jimenez and after their last name so I thought it was funny like play on words

THA: So u grew up in Chicago?

AR: Yea I was born and raised in Chicago actually grew up in this neighborhood actually. That’s why I wanted to open up this store I this area kind of giving back to the area I grew up in but ,actually after eight grade I moved out to Gurnee. Like my parents wanted to get me out of the rough neighborhoods and whatever. In the 90’s it was rough around here it still kind of is but not as bad I guess. So we moved out to Gurnee for four years for high school and after high school we moved back so I can go to UIC

THA: Being near Kelvyn Park High school do u have a lot of student clientele?

AR: Oh yea definitely it’s a huge luxury for me to have them near me I’m actually in the process, because I sell Asics I can give them track shoes volleyball shoes all that stuff at a discount if they want ,so I can help.

THA: As in helping out the school?

AR: Yea as in giving back to the community because, if I take care of them they are more willing to take care of me and bring their business to me.

THA: Being that Kelvyn Park is a pretty dominant Latino neighborhood such as other neighborhoods previously as Wicker Park/ Bucktown and Lincoln Park. Do you see Kelvyn park going through a gentrification process?

AR: I don’t see it happening that much. I see an effort it’s like a catch-22 you know? Do you want that to happen? Like if that happens its good for business you know it brings in more money. It brings in the type of crowd that purchases but, then it’s like you kind of lose the neighborhood feel. I almost feel like those neighborhoods you mention is like rich kids moving in just to say “yea I live in the city.” you know.

THA: Exactly. I feel the same way. ( laughs)

AR: That’s kind of why I wanted to open it up in this area and I just wanted to give them the option of not having to go to those places and buy from those people who… I don’t know it’s like if you buy here your supporting your neighborhood.

THA: Being a Latino in a dominant Asian, Caucasian and African American market. Do you feel like you have to catch up? Does it feel weird being the odd man out? Being, you are one of the few Latino owned stores?

AR: I’m definitely catching up I don’t want every sneaker business to get to the point like how there’s a barbershop. If you drive down this street (Fullerton Ave.) you see like four or five urban barbershops. I know it won’t because companies limit how much the accounts they give. But I feel like I’m at the trailing end of that kind of business I guess from leaders to Phli on the south side all these different places they’ve been around I’m pretty young to own my own business when it comes to reputation and styles. So it’s definitely going to be an uphill climb and I’m definitely catching up.

THA: Being that most shops are on Milwaukee south loop and river north such as leaders downtown Leaders north, Saint Alfred’s, Jugrnaut, Solemates, Hefjina, Untitled, Belmont Army and Uprise. What do you think separates yourself from them?

AR: Definitely, its rough because I’m nowhere near them.. Like city wise culturally wise and my neighborhood is nothing like theirs but, it’s hard because when I try getting accounts or something there are like “oh well you’re too close to leaders. “you know that’s what supra told me and I actually Google earthed them and this is how far I am from them. It’s a completely different neighborhood and I don’t have the finances like they do you know this is my store I run it and I’m here all day everyday I’m kind of more the underdog independent trying to show.. Like the people that live there know already the kind of culture they see what those stores are trying to do. What I’m trying to do is build it in this neighborhood from the ground up like no one really knows I’m trying to evolve this area alone so I think (pauses) that’s the thing I don’t have that pre- built area like all those places that are right next to each other I’m starting something new in the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s like this neighborhood made the person I am so I wanted to open up here and change them the way they changed me I don’t think any of those people from the stores can say I went to the preschool across the street because I did.

THA: Being in a more urban area do you see yourself as an urban sneaker store? Or are u trying to be such as a streetwear boutique

AR: I’m not really trying to be urban you know because there is a store across the street Victors they’ve been urban. They’re super urban ware and when I was in high school I shopped there but I feel like urban culture is changing to the point where like the urban icons don’t dress like that anymore like Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West they don’t even dress baggy. I’m definitely trying to show a more evolved culture like a neo-urban is what I call it. I’m neo-urban I’m not urban wear in the traditional sense.

THA: What can you say inspires your style?


AR: I don’t really wear stuff just because its popular. I look at something if its sleek and unique like if it fits me… (contemplating thoughts) like non conformist like just original trying to just wear stuff and bring stuff that’s just not cookie cutter that’s not dime a dozen its hard like I said because of the stuff I have now when I opened up was in such a weird phase where the stuff coming out was sold out in other stores.

THA: So it’s like you’re playing catch up?

AR: Yea exactly

THA: What music influences your style or any genres influence your style

AR: That’s a good question music is definitely an influence on the type of vibe you want to put in the store. Like artists that are my favorite right now. Different genres for sure Like hip hop Talib Kweli and if you want to talk about Chicago common, Kanye West but there’s music from all kinds, like Kings of Leon On. They’re brand new I went to their show. Just definitely that neo-hip-hop. You know music that has a message instead of something not just like… shake your ass. (laughs)

THA: I see. What can u say is an average day for you?

AR: Like sale wise?

THA: Either or.

AR: That’s the one too I open up at ten o’clock as opposed to Leaders opens at noon and a lot of other stores. I wish I had that luxury right now but in this economy and I’m new and the area I kind of have to hustle 10-8 and Sunday 11-7. But I get here I unlock the doors and try to catch the morning crowd and I get a lot of people, it’s a good area for foot traffic but I just check my e-mail.. And I just need one good sale honestly just to make a good day like $200 a day and you’ll be straight. Before I opened I was like all I have to do is sell a pair of shoes an hour and it doesn’t really happen like that in this economy reality hits and you put yourself in a mindset like if I do this then I’m straight. You learn your first year and second year that you’re not going to make money you’re just trying to stay alive the more you’re there. The more people see you there and the more willing they are to come in and buy from you I think a lot of business in this economy pop up and then they are gone so really right now I’m just trying to stay around pretty much (laughs) I guess that has nothing to do with my normal day but you know.

THA: Do you see your brand branching out to other items such as apparel?

AR: Oh definitely I have friends who just finished college and are graphic designers and stuff and we’ve been talking about trying to start up a tee line, because it seems like everyone else has one you know why not. (laughs) I would love to make my own shoes and designing my own shoes that would be something awesome that’s definitely a goal in the future I think I know what kind of shoes I like and silhouettes I like, one day hopefully start doing that.

THA: What would you say is your all time favorite shoe?



AR: My all time favorite shoe?Hmm…..

THA: I’ll be generous, top five?

AR: Top five (sighs) that’s a good question. Well you gotta go classic like shell toes. Not like the classic run dmc shell toe more like high-tops shell toe let me see. There’s a shoe called the puma sky II actually where it had these two straps they’re pretty dope. Reebok pumps can’t go wrong with those (laughs)Its funny because when those came out people were wearing them to play basketball and people thought it would make you jump higher but now it’s like whatever it’s just a fashion shoe. What’s funny is I have never ever once purchased a pair of Jordan’s.

THA: Really?

AR: Yea,Which I kind of guess I don’t know, is it hypocritical? But I just didn’t want to always wear the shoes what everyone else was wearing.

THA: You just wanted to go against the grain?

AR: Yea,exactly. But Nike wise I remember the Barkley’s the Air Flight. I’ve actually..(sighs/ pauses)

THA: It’s alright take your time (laughs)

AR: I don’t want to say air force ones but it’s a shoe you have to have. But my favorite shoes were these grey suede Puma Romas they had grey suede with the blue puma stripes I would just rock those every day. Their comfortable I love that they are suede. Back in high school no one wore suede.

THA: How has the Chicago scene treated you?

AR: The only person that has came in was the owner of the shop that’s half barbershop half sneaker store

THA: Melo. From Born With Sole.

AR: Yea he came in here he was cool he complimented me on my store but to be honest I don’t think anyone from the stores know me like I’m not going to hate and be like nobody’s came in to show love. I don’t think I’m well know yet but I definitely gone to visit Leaders Akira and they have beautiful stores and I hope one day I can be mentioned with them I can’t hate on them they were here way before me and I’m paying my dues.

THA: What’s your stance on counterfeit shoes? And people who wear them?

AR: There’s a difference between people who know they are counterfeit and people who don’t. I’m not mad at them if you can’t afford them so be it. I think its business owners I got something against. It says something about you when you have fake shoes when you’re selling fake stuff people know. Personally I couldn’t wear them or sell them I feel like I’m robbing them. I like knowing that people know its genuine stuff here when they come to my shop.
A Royals Sneakers Plus can be located at
4305 W Fullerton Ave. Chicago IL
– The Homeboy Andres

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  1. Frankie

    I’ve shopped at ARoyals and their shoe selection is awesome! It’s hard to find a good pair of asics and pumas outside of the internet. You know you got something hot and unique when everyone with good shoe game is asking you where you got your shoes.

  2. Jesus

    Good stuff Andrew never knew this place existed. Have to check it out soon.

  3. dope interview, but what does this mystery man look like?

  4. andres

    thats why u gotta stop in and see. and show some love

  5. David "The king of six step"

    Dope interview guy sounds like a cool kat. It’s amazing to see that no matter where you go growing up is the best thing happening I mean like this kat grew up by kelvin park and now he is working to make it better to me that says alot

  6. David "The king of six step"

    Dope interview sounds like a kool kat

  7. Arthur Jillz

    dopeshit. i love me an underdog. and them pumas shit on the supras. so fuck them for denying the account anyways. i’m peep this ish. finally i can get my espanol on again.

  8. Jenny

    I have been to ARoyals and it’s like a sneaker-heads heaven in there. Honestly, I didn’t know what shoe to buy. I wasn’t really looking for anything but I did find something. I found a rare Puma bag, which I feel in love with the minute I laid eyes on it. ARoyals is very unique with a grown up style. Wish you guys the best.

  9. This dude has the sickest collection of shoes. Definately worth stopping by for a look. HE HAS ALL THE SICKEST SHOES puma, fila, reeboks and Shmacks which is new but sick as hell

  10. […] or think I am out of my mind but my place of choice is called Ponce its right across the street from A royals sneaker boutique in the Hermosa neighborhood. Seriously it couldn’t be a better match getting […]

  11. Jenny

    Havent had the chance to walk in there but the window displays are hott…. see them every day….!!! 🙂

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