FAMU student finds his niche as shoe salesman
By Cici Anderson
Andrew Lewis IV was a typical 11-year-old growing up in Tampa with a strong sense of wanting to know.
When his cousin, Kiendra Nelson, took him to the shoe stores he was as inquisitive as ever. So much so that he developed a passion for shoes – not just to wear them but to sell them.
He just needed start-up cash. While attending Burnett Middle School, Lewis saved some of his birthday money. He eventually used the savings to buy gum and chips, which he sold to his classmates.
His sales generated sufficient to purchase his first shoes to resell. He immediately realized it was a good way to double his money.
The profit was enough for him to delve even farther into the business of selling shoes.
“I’ve been selling sneakers since about the sixth grade and basically I just started off with $200 and I bought a shoe for about $200 and I flipped it and made $400,” He said. “I doubled my money pretty much and I just kept on doing that but now I have a line of credit so I just use that to buy my merchandise.”
Although Lewis considers himself to be pretty independent when it comes to his business, he could never forget the support that he receives from his family.
“My parents definitely have helped me. I run the daily but sometimes I come to them for advice or investing,” Lewis said. “They have driven me places a lot, especially before I started driving. The first shoe I sold they met the person for me and sold it on craigslist, I wasn’t even there. Since I have shown them I know what I’m doing they have invested to help me purchase more which allowed me to save up and have my own funds, too.”
Selling shoes is in the center of Lewis’s wheelhouse. He is a 20-year-old sophomore at FAMU majoring in business administration who wants to be a business mogul. His plans include real estate and creating his own clothing line.
Being involved in business is part of Lewis’s DNA. Growing up, he witnessed many family members become successful in real estate, which has influenced his career path. Lewis’s mother has both rental and Airbnb property and his father and stepmom also own rental property.
Nelson, who also had financial success selling shoes, is also in the real estate business and at age 25 has bought a quad that she now rents. That has inspired Lewis to start his own hustle and he began selling shoes, which he’s been doing long before he came to FAMU in 2018.
“I got my first home while in college at 20 going to school in Tampa,” Nelson said. “I purchased the house, gutted the inside, I got a good deal for it. It was an interesting experience and he (Lewis) watched that take place. His grandparents, parents, uncles, all own homes.”
Lewis has picked up a lot of business skills from both sides of his family and while attending FAMU, where he is a third-generation Rattler. His pedigree seemingly makes his passion for business second-nature.
“I don’t feel pressured to be in business, I love business,” he said. “I love working on my businesses and living life on my own terms. I am building a foundation and lifestyle for my children’s, children’s, children.”
Lewis is very passionate about his work and keeps up with a full schedule that balances his responsibilities for both Sneaker Renegade, school and other responsibilities such as his role of vice president for FAMU’s Real Estate Club.
It’s clear that his business is a priority, though.
“I realized with shoes — you can sell them; people are really interested in them and you can make money from it,” Lewis said. “In high school, I realized I just wanted to make money from it so I sold all my shoes pretty much. Only two or three shoes and then I was focused on the business and how to profit from it.
“My two goals are being able to take care of my family and having control over my life.”
Lewis has developed strong relationships with his customers and is constantly looking to enhance his services by offering the best quality merchandise. Even the ones that are rare and hard to find.
His customers say it’s obvious that he thrives to make it convenient for them to find his products.
“Andrew’s online business is significantly better than in-store businesses because he resells shoes that are rare and may be hard to find in stores,” said Daa’yah Jones, who met Lewis two years ago and has been patronizing his business since.
“He takes his business very seriously and is a true young entrepreneur,” Jones added. “He knows how to respectfully communicate with customers and knows the proper way of running a business.”
Lewis said he is constantly thinking of ways to grow his business. He plans to create a platform that will allow customers to have an enjoyable shopping experience, while discovering products that may interest them, he said.
His plans for developing the sneakers business include a pop-up shop in Tallahassee Mall. That, however, will have to wait a year while Lewis begins to explore possibilities in real estate.
He is considering purchasing a four-unit quad or a duplex, Lewis said.
“I’m kind of trying to move away from the shoes and into something with longevity because I honestly don’t know how long the shoes will last and I’m really not trying to sell shoes for that long. You can make a lot of money on Airbnb renting out stuff every week, daily, monthly.”
While the profitability of real estate is on Lewis’ radar, at least one family member believes his real passion is selling shoes. His success as a shoe salesman also makes his family proud, said his uncle, Kelvin Anderson, who also dabbled in the shoe business.
“We’re all extremely proud of him,” said Anderson. “I always tell him to be humble and don’t let it go to his head; just grow your business. He always says he’s going to stop doing shoes but he always ventures back to it. He knows about all the new shoes that are coming out.”
While the choice of real estate or shoes might have created a bit of a conundrum for Lewis, none of his family is questioning his success either way. They point to his work ethic as a strong suit.
He also likes to follow the money, too.
“Honestly it just depends. Money talks and he’s going to go wherever is more profitable at the time,” Nelson said. “He just wants to succeed in everything.”