In 2016, Frederick Paul II was experiencing a common college student challenge: not having a lot of money. He did, however, have a lot of sneakers, about 30 pairs, in his apartment in Kalamazoo, where he lived when he was majoring in advertising at Western Michigan University.
The native east-sider and sneaker collector got the idea to clean up and put five pairs of his beloved shoes, including his favorite red and gray Air Jordan 10s and Air Jordan 7 Olympics, on eBay.
The response was immediate and he realized he was on to something. He gave himself “a cool name,” dubbing his online sneaker exchange The Heat Factory and started releasing shoes on Wednesdays. He then branched out with his own website, relying on his education in advertising to create a website. After doing business solely online for a few years, Paul secured a $25,000 Motor City Match grant as well as the TechTown Retail Bootcamp Pitch Showcase award.
This Friday, March 13 Paul will open the doors to the brick and mortar of his sneaker exchange, now rebranded as Fahrenheit 313, at 20114 Livernois Ave., in a space that previously housed a security company. He had originally looked at areas like Midtown to open his store but was drawn to Livernois after he landing the Motor City Match grant.
“I realized all of the good things that were coming on the corridor, there’s Kuzzo’s down the street and Three Thirteen store. There was just starting to be a bigger and bigger buzz about the Avenue,” he says.
When coming up with the look and feel for the retail space, Paul says he wanted to “stay true to Detroit.” The exposed brick evokes Detroiters’ “hardworking spirit” and history of working in factories and plants, while the flame aesthetic pays homage to the business' earlier roots.
Fahrenheit 313 is more than just sweet sneakers; for Paul, a Renaissance High alum, it’s important for him to give back to his city. In 2016, Paul launched the #BehindTheHats campaign, which provided 30 meals for Gleaners Community Food Bank. The following year, Paul organized the City Champ Series, which featured three different sporting events. Money raised from the events provided college book scholarships and more than 100 fully stocked backpacks for Detroit Public Schools Community District students. Now the store, he wants to donate every $1 of monthly sneaker trading membership sales — which start at $15 a month — to city schools.
“Growing up in the city of Detroit … we didn't have a lot of these bigger stores come into the city. And now it's the total opposite. But at the same time, I don't feel these huge corporations are making an impact back on the city of Detroit,” Paul says, noting the billion-dollar sneaker industry. With Fahrenheit 313, he wants to make sneakers more accessible while giving back. “The bigger we grow I wanted to reinvest back into the neighborhood. And I wanted people to be able to see the dollars going back into the community.”