Vince Villanueva walks nonchalantly through the crowded floor of the Schaumburg Convention Center while holding what seems to be (to the untrained eye) a raggedy old shoe above his head like the Statue of Liberty’s torch.

At last weekend’s Sneaker Con, a gathering focused on buying and selling collectible athletic shoes and streetwear, this was just a way business gets done.

“Yo!” a vendor beckons him over. The vendor examines the shoe, a 1987 Air Max. “What are you askin’?”

Villanueva brings the shoe over, cautioning the vendor not to be too rough on the crumbling padding. He’s circumspect when it comes to naming a solid price. He finally says, “Two or three” (as in hundred dollars). The would-be buyer doesn’t flinch but doesn’t bite either.

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