How I Became a Cheapskate Sneaker Head

I blame Carlo.

We were in Gateway before a basketball game back in 2010. While killing time, we strolled into a Nike branch in the mall to check out shoes. New on the shelves back then were the Kobe VIs. I never really liked the look of the pair because of the snakeskin element on the upper. But I couldn’t help but take a closer look.

Carlo noticed I was checking out the ‘Purple Gradient’ color way and he innocently told me, “Fit it.”

I can vividly remember how it felt having my foot in the Kobe VI. It was like my feet were getting hugged by the best kind of hug. The shoe wrapped around my foot comfortably. Supportive, not suffocating. The Zoom cushion was springy yet still plush. If clouds could propel things, that’s what the cushion felt like.

I sound like I’m exaggerating. Maybe I am. But wearing the Kobe VIs changed how I approached buying basketball sneakers.

Before the Kobes, I would just buy whatever sneaker fit my budget. I didn’t care for the tech or the specs of the shoe. The most important detail for me was the price. I just bought whatever was on sale in Proline or Olympic City. I once played in a pair of Adidas team model sneakers that were a whole size bigger than what I usually wear. Partly because I didn’t know better at the time. But also because they were the last pair and going for 1,500 bucks.

That mentality mostly changed after the Kobes. I read up on the Kobe VI and what made it a life-changing experience. That’s where I learned that the snakeskin upper wasn’t just purely for aesthetics. But the scales were part of the reason why the shoe fit my foot perfectly. I also learned about Zoom and targeted cushioning. I understood that every part and piece of the shoe was made with Kobe Bryant’s game in mind.


From there, I began searching for sneaker sites that I could follow. I started off with Counter Kicks then moved on to Nice Kicks, Sole Collector and Sneaker News. I read about sneaker styles signature shoes. I studied up on AdiPrene, the Zig Slash and FlyWire. I enjoyed reading up on color ways that took key design elements from flags or movies. I watched sneaker reviews of Nightwing2303, KickGenius and Sole Brothers.I was addicted. I loved reading up on the newest and latest kicks or sneaker tech.

I love sneakers. Just not enough to pay full price for them.

The Kobes were awesome. Just not awesome enough to change my penny-pinching ways. That’s why I never owned a pair of Kobe VIs until two years after I first fit them (more on that in a separate post).

One could argue that If I loved sneakers so much, why wouldn’t I spend for something that I truly enjoy?

I guess it’s because I came into the game late. I didn’t get into sneakers until after college. That meant my newly adulting wallet couldn’t support my new obsessions. Paying for gas was more important. Or else I’d be walking home in my latest pair.

So, I was forced to get creative when It came to buying sneakers. I was always on the lookout for the latest sale. I didn’t hesitate lining up outside SM Mega Trade Hall on a weekend and wading through people just to check out discounted kicks. Outlet stores on SLEX and NLEX became routine stops during out of town trips.  I signed up to and checked out sneakers on sale there. I also joined Facebook Groups dedicated for sneaker heads. I started out with one general group. Now I’m part of five (only because I streamlined) that is specific to my size range and price range.

I don’t regret being a cheapskate. Buying a pair at SRP is all good. But there’s something fun about finding the same pair at MY price. It makes the pair more special. It takes patience, creativity and effort to get sneakers at discounted prices. And that’s what makes a pair special to me.  I simply don’t just go to a store to buy a pair. Sometimes, I have to travel to new places just to meet-up with a seller or check out an outlet store. I take my cheapskate mentality to a whole new level during meet-ups. I don’t drive, Uber or even take cabs to meet-ups. I commute.

It’s all worth it because I’ve had several adventures in acquiring new pairs.

I’ve been to Carriedo on a Sunday just to meet-up with a seller. After the deal, I was able to walk around Manila and experience it during a lazy Sunday morning. I took a trike to Binondo and bus to Alabang. I got my first pair of Jordans in the Nike Outlet Store in Sta. Rosa. I scoured the side streets of Mongkok, Hong Kong to find my grails at a discounted price. That was memorable because I spent almost half a day just exploring Fa Yuen Street, more popularly known as Hong Kong’s Sneaker Street. I even found myself walking along Taft after work on a week night to finally get the pair that started it all, the Kobe VI.

Three games with these guys. Good run last night.

A post shared by Polo Bustamante (@polo_bustamante) on

Sure, I’ll remember the shoes, how they felt on my feet and how fun they were to play in. But I’ll also remember the maneuvering, the waiting, the lining-up and the adventures that went with getting my latest sneakers.

I’ve been a cheapskate sneaker head all these years because I enjoy the thrill of the chase. I’m going to be sharing some of these sneaker adventures as well as my thoughts on some of my pick-ups here.

Kobe 6 “Purple Gradient” image from, Kobe 6 Tech Info image from

3 thoughts

  1. Bro!!! I love this. I transitioned from a full sneaker head to discounted only sneakerhead because of my kids. Also, it taught me to read the tech sheet of shoes and really figure out bang for buck which ones are the best shoes that fit my foot (im sorta flat footed with a history of plantar fasciitis). Buying sure technology filled “team” shoes at the 4k range surely beats “star player” experimental technology shoes at the 7k and up range.


    1. Thanks bro! My current shoe now is the Crazy Explosive Low. Sold my Lillard 2 to buy them. Can’t wait to try it out and review it here!


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