As someone who has on their Twitter profile (@ReedDailey), the quote "Ready 2 travel but only in planes or trains." The biggest blow to me during this pandemic has been the fact that for the most part, I have not been able to do one of my favorite things in the world, take an adventure. To me, adventures can be as simple and checking out a new part of town, getting on the train and learning about a new part of your city, or getting on a plane and exploring a new portion of the world. Thankfully and fingers crossed, we are getting closer and closer to the end of this whole thing and can get back to the old ways or define new ways, however you want to look at it.
So it is with that said, that I am thrilled about this local adventure that in really a three-part story comprised of old friends, new friends, and connecting with a city that I now call home.
A buddy of mine (Negroni Greg) used to live in the West Loop of Chicago and we would always walk by the Notre Store when we were either heading to drinks or grabbing a sandwich over at J.P. Graziano Grocery. From time to time we would pop in and check out the latest and greatest that Notre was featuring and was always impressed by the original storefront than the expanded space as it sits now. Coming from Atlanta, Notre reminded me of one of my favorite stores, Standard. Just sort of a similar vibe of the store with forward-thinking buyers pushing the envelope of what street-wear should look like. So, jumping in to see what was new was always sort of a fun experience for me, reminded me of being back home in the A.
“Our Nike Dunk designs were inspired by everything we love about classic workwear, from color palettes, to material selection, to construction techniques. We chose materials that’ll look better the harder you thrash them, pairing heavy canvas with shaggy suede that’s naturally finished, creating subtle color and texture variations that ensure no two pairs look exactly alike. Each pair is reinforced with triple-stitching and features a patch on the left tongue paying homage to the vintage workshirt and a Swoosh modified with our handshake motif.”
Meeting the Team
Fast forward to a couple of years later, I see this YouTube video of the two co-founders highlighting their Nike collaboration; to say I was fired up was the understatement of the year. I can't completely remember the details if there was an in-person event or an online event. Ever one it was, I took a big L and didn't grab a pair.
Fast forward to a few weeks back, Negroni Greg was back in town, had brunch, and then headed over to the store. I chopped it up with the manager, the staff, and without even knowing it was talking to the co-founder Jose Villanueva. Found out they may have a pair left in my size and said, give them my number, and they would see if they might be able to track down a pair in the warehouse in my size. About a week or so later got the call that they were able to, in fact, find pair. So now, I just needed to get back down to the store and pick them up. Oh, the joys of living in the burbs. So when I was on the phone with the store manager, I was like, I am serious about these shoes, I just don't live close and can't make it till Sunday because I have my daughter's b-day party on Saturday. Emphasizing that I absolutely wanted the pair and will be there to get them on the upcoming Sunday. The fact that it was my daughter's b-day plays into the story, just hold tight.
A Fresh Pair
So, here is where the story is sort of funny. I live about 26-Miles from the store, not like I am counting or anything. We are in the middle of the summer here in Chicago and you get mostly 80's but some 90's, this particular day it was 95 and felt like 100. I wanted to bring my daughter who just turned four on the adventure. Figuring it would be fun to explore the West Loop, check out the store and look at the shoes, and eat a solid meal.
Knowing it would be hot and that attention spans can be short, packed some drinks and snack food, but also brought some gift bags and cupcakes from the party as a way to make this fun for C my daughter. Remember when I said it was going to get funny. Well, in the 26-miles from door-to-door, I sort of forgot that my old SUV air conditioning wasn't firing on all cylinders, and by the time we got to the West Loop, not only were both C and I looking like we just stepped out of Lake Michigan, the cupcakes had started to melt like they were ice cream.
Tempers higher than normal due to the heat, cupcakes, and goody bags in hand, we walked to the shop. Now, for those who have been with a hungry and hot little kid, you know, this was not a great recipe for sneaker shopping and chopping it up with new friends. So I did what any good father would do, and promised ice cream after we got the shoes.
We made it to the shop, I was fired up on the idea of new shoes, C was fired up about the idea of getting ice cream. I only know that because for the next ten minutes she asked me if we could get ice cream just about every 30-seconds. Note to self, get the ice cream first..... So we walked into the shop with cupcakes and goody bags in hand, the whole team sort of got a kick out of the fact that a four-year-old brought them cupcakes, even if they were half-melted. And for me, I got the chance to meet some more of the staff, check out some of the other things the shop has to offer, and had the opportunity to share the joy of sneaker shopping with my kid. What more could you ask for.
Friendship Over Substance
Am I pumped about the shoe you bet you! But more than the shoe, it was listening to the shoes’ origin story through the two co-founders, meeting new friends at the shop and having a genuine human experience in this crazy covid time that made me remember how bad I miss travel, meeting new friends, and connecting over a common interest. The title of this section was "friendship over substance, but still some substance." I walked into this whole experience just looking for some shoes over the two trips, a couple of phone calls, and a hot car ride later. I met some new friends, connected with a city that I am still far from knowing well, continued to introduce my daughter, a passion of mine, and of course, got some killer new shoes in the process.
Thanks to the Notre Team
Just want to say thanks to founders Jose Villanueva and Michael Jaworowski for coming up with such a cool concept and big thanks to the team and Notre who were so cool to both me and my daughter when we came to pick up the shoes. As someone who has lived in the Chicagoland area for a couple of years but hasn’t really felt a part of the community. Experiences like this make me feel more and more like I can call Chicago my home. Check out Notre online and if you are in Chicago, head to their West Loop location.