Where to Buy Sneakers in Nairobi

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Where to Buy Sneakers in Nairobi


Nairobi is one of the most interesting cities you can ever visit. We have almost everything to capture your imagination - amazing scenery, lovely parks and even one of the fastest internet connections in the world. If you're looking for a place where to buy sneakers in Nairobi, though? You're fresh out of luck. Sort of.

You probably know Kenya for producing the best long-distance runners in the world. With that, you'd think finding a decent sneakers shop in Nairobi would be easy. You'd be wrong, surprisingly.

It's technically possible to find sneakers and shoes anywhere you look. Sneaker shops riddle the city all along Tom Mboya street and hawkers overflow every other road close enough. If you're diligent enough, you might even head to Gikomba bright and early to get some cheap wares. We aren't lacking in quantity by any stretch of the imagination, but the quality of shoes a lot of these shops offer is often downright appalling.

The Problem With Where to Buy Sneakers in Nairobi - Low-quality Shoes

To understand why quality is often so bad, you'll need a little background. Good-quality fakes are pretty expensive, so such replicas barely ever their way to Kenya. And when they do, the prices are so outrageous you're better off buying second-hand shoes. Those are a lot cheaper and will probably be much better quality.

Wholesalers purchase fake products by the thousands from countries like China and flood them in low-cost markets like Kenya. Considering how little these purchases cost, retailers don't need to sell too many to make absurd margins. Heck, even second-hand sneakers in Nairobi will cost you an arm, a leg or both if you have zero bargaining power. But that's not the topic we'll be exploring in this guide. Rather, we'll address what brought you here today - where to buy sneakers in Nairobi.

It's not all doom and gloom. Kenya is a quickly-developing nation with almost unlimited possibilities. Since the discovery phase is one of the most difficult to get past, today we'll explore ten different sneaker shops in Nairobi, how they operate and how we rate them.

Selecting the Best Sneaker Stores in Nairobi - What Criteria Did We Use?

Any ranking list is only as good as the criteria used to select what turns up where on said list. Following that, our list wasn't random. We narrowed down on the following criteria when selecting who gets to turn up and where they appear on the list:

Value proposition - what do they do differently?

The most important selection criteria we had for this list was the value proposition. Due to the sheer volume of places where to buy sneakers in Nairobi, we couldn't possibly go through (and possibly visit) each one of them.

As such, the very first factor we used to select stories to be featured on this list is their value proposition. Stores that were picked are those that had something more to offer than just shoes. Maybe they offer free delivery, have a very lenient returns policy or only stock, say, Converse shoes. That's unique enough feature them!

Online presence & activity.

Nearly every Kenyan today has access to the internet, and it's playing a larger role in SMEs than at any other point in history. In other words, if the store in question doesn't have an online presence, it's not on this list. If it does have an online presence but isn't active - no new posts, does not respond to customer queries, etc, it was also ignored.

Physical Presence

In Kenya and most of the developing world, we don't yet enjoy the same premium e-commerce experience as the developed world. Having a physical store is a pretty important step to gaining the trust of prospective customers.

Reviews - what do people say?

Finally, another important criterion used for this list was people's general opinion of the store. This was taken to mean primarily two things: stores with large online followings are given a boost, but if that following holds a mostly-negative opinion, it's relegated.

With that, I hope you're ready to explore our favorite sneakers shops in Nairobi. Do keep in mind that this list is not in any particular order. You're free to make up your own mind.

Getting into it - Where to Buy Sneakers in Nairobi

Retrobie

Here's an interesting one for you.

Retrobie is an ambitious new venture launched in January 2020 as an online-only shoe store. Specializing specifically on sports shoes and casual sneakers.

We have a variety of shoes for everybody. We sell men and women's shoes - sneakers, basketball and sports shoes. The range of products we offer ranges from popular brands like Air Jordans, Converse shoes, Nike Running shoes to more niche brands like Kevin Durants (KDs), Lebron shoes and Kobes.

As far as brands go, we are decidedly the most beautiful/functional website in Kenya, but we'll let you be the judge of that. Our checkout system is also pretty smooth and we accept a range of payment systems - Mpesa, cash and Paypal included.

And if you're not convinced, one of the most attractive things about us is our friendly return policy. We accept refunds on any product you aren't satisfied with within 7 days of delivery, either for an exchange or a refund on your purchase cost.

What's to love:

  • Value proposition:
    • Offers original shoes only - no replicas.
    • A friendly returns and refunds policy.
    • Stocks a range of shoes, including affordable ones
    • Website is functional and easy to navigate
    • Smooth checkout flow.
  • Online presence & activity: Moderately active on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Physical presence - N/A
  • Reviews

What's not to love

  • No physical location
  • Young brand. No market reputation

Verdict: It's tough being your own judge and jury, but we're proud of what we do and aren't afraid to brand ourselves the best sneaker shop in Nairobi. Since we're such a young brand, we've got a lot to prove,

Kicks & Apparel Kenya

Kicks Kenya comes in a close second for 'best sneaker shop in Nairobi' primarily because of the exponential growth they have achieved in what's a relatively short time. Started as a concept in January 2019, the company has quickly grown into one of the most easily-recognizable apparel brands in Kenya.

They specialize in providing their customers with high-quality sneakers at pretty affordable prices. Most of their products range from anywhere between Ksh. 3,000 and Ksh. 5,000.

The company's mantra is "As Seen on Screen," a phrase that refers to the company's exclusive use of real pictures and videos to represent its products on social media. By the time you decide to buy from them, you should already have a good idea of what you're going to get.

What's to love:

  • Value proposition- "As Seen on Screen." Everything you purchase should be the same as what you see on social media.
  • Online presence & activity - The company has 30k followers on Instagram at the time of writing this article which is both hefty and respectable to have done within a year. They post regularly both on Facebook and Instagram which gives them even more props.
  • Physical presence (Yes) - K&A recently celebrated the launch of their store at Monrovia street, and their displays are a doozy.
  • Reviews (4+) - Mostly positive (Instagram, Facebook)

What's not to love

  • Unclear return policy

How to reach them: Instagram, Facebook.

Verdict: Being so well established in such a short time, K&A has quickly proven to be one of the most reliable sneakers shops in Nairobi. It's well worth a try.

Shoe Empire

Despite what the name might suggest, "Shoe Empire" sells everything from chains to ripped jeans. The venture was started back in 2015 so they take the crown for "longest-running business" on this list. Since this guide is about where to buy sneakers in Nairobi, we'll stick to our specialty.

They promote themselves as "the place to buy the cheapest quality men's footwear," the implication being they are an outlet at which you can purchase relatively cheap sneakers in Nairobi. However, a little doubt may be cast on this claim because none of their products are listed anywhere online.

They don't have the most diverse selection of shoes out there - mostly sticking to mainstream features like Air Force One and Jordan 11s. If you're ever on the lookout for more specific or more recent pairs of shoes, you're probably out of luck.

For what it's worth, this store has earned its place on our list because it has the largest Facebook following of any brand on this list.

What's to Love

  • Value proposition -Customer service. What this brand lacks in variety, it makes up for in the quality of their customer care team.
  • Online presence & activity: Despite their large following, social media interaction is on the lower end of the spectrum.
  • Physical Presence: Located at Revlon Profession Plaza
  • Reviews - (N/A)

What's Not to Love

  • Restrictive returns policy - goods can only be returned within 24 hours of purchase

How to Reach Them: Facebook

Verdict: While not as ambitious as Retrobie or well-loved as K&A, Shoe Empire certainly has been around for a while so if nothing else, customer loyalty is there.

Footshop 254

If you're a person who bases their opinions on products you're yet to try mostly on reviews, then you're in luck. Footshop254 stands out from other entrants on this list because it's the best-reviewed store so far - with an average rating of 4.8/5 over 12 reviews on Facebook. They deliver countrywide, and the rave reviews are in large part a reflection of this.

It is more geared towards maintaining its traditional standing as an offline-first shop above all else. If you also prefer to do all your shopping in person, this might be the perfect shop for you to try.

  • Value proposition - Unclear
  • Online presence & activity: Moderately active.
  • Physical Presence: Yes.
  • Reviews - 4+

Where to reach them: Facebook

Laces KE

The final entrant on our list stands out from the rest because of their interesting choices in pricing. Kenya is one of the most price-sensitive markets in the world. Safaricom and Airtel's eternal wars to pricing to the bottom is a product of this. That's relevant because Laces KE is by far the most expensive store on this list. The cheapest products cost about Ksh. 6000 and go all the way to the tens of thousands.

It costs a pretty penny, but if the reviews are anything to go by, it's worth every cent. They arguably have a better rating than any other store on this list at 4.7/5 as reviewed by 53 people.

  • Value proposition - Good quality for the buck.
  • Online presence & activity: Not very active
  • Physical Presence: Located at Marsabit Plaza, Ngong Rd.
  • Reviews - 4+

Shoe Shop Africa

Notes

  • While we tried out best to be comprehensive with our guide to where to buy sneakers in Nairobi, we realize it's impossible to achieve 100% accuracy with our information. A lot of businesses have no online presence whatsoever and yet offer good quality services. This article is not a reflection of that.
  • Businesses that exist solely on Instagram/Facebook and have no traces of themselves anywhere else present a significant challenge to research/get in touch with. Such stores weren't featured. This may change in the future, however.
  • We cannot guarantee every store on this list offers quality products, despite what their pages say (aside from our own, of course).

Conclusion

Nairobi, and Kenya as a whole, still has some ways to go before we can get to the direct-to-consumer levels of goods delivery and public satisfaction that bigger brands all around the world enjoy.

These sneakers shops in Nairobi have been featured because they either show promise, have achieved quite a bit or are very well-loved.

Is that all?

We tried to be as neutral as possible when writing this article and we realize huge chunks of different places to get sneakers and second hand shoes in Nairobi were left out. Future articles will address both this and perhaps feature the best Instagram and Facebook shops in Nairobi, too.

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