‘Crawfish’ shoe sales boiling hot as they make La. debut

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Shoppers wait in line outside of Rukus Board Shop on Jones Creek Road to buy
Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Shoppers wait in line outside of Rukus Board Shop on Jones Creek Road to buy "crawfish" skateboard shoes on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Some arrived as early as 2:00 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. release.

‘Crawfish’ shoe sales boiling hot as they debut

It’s all there, just not where you’d ever expect to find it.

The plump boiled crawfish with their bright red shells like a pair of puckered lips ready to lay on the kiss of spice, the yellow corn standing out among the red like little suns and all of it resting atop a pile of newspaper.

This particular crawfish boil, though, is unlike any Louisiana has ever seen because it’s an image proudly portrayed on a Nike shoe designed for skateboarders.

Some collectors camped out all night waiting for the new NikeSB Dunk Low Crawfish to make its worldwide debut at the locally owned and operated Rukus Board Shop on Jones Creek Road. A store employee, Hunter Hulin, designed the shoe with the help of Nike.

The 19-year-old Hulin said the project began about 1½ years ago when the store’s Nike sales representative, Joey Giambalvo, offered the staff an opportunity to design a shoe with the chance to have it made by Nike and sold worldwide.

Hulin went home that evening and by the next morning had a beginning design drawn up of what would, after about a year of design exchanges with Nike, become the shoe sold Saturday.

What had once been a fantasy for Hulin and Rukus owner Ronnie Saurage to have their own shoe sold by Nike had turned into a reality.

Saurage said people waiting to purchase a pair of the “crawfish shoes” began lining up Friday afternoon for the 10 a.m. release Saturday. The shelves also were clearing at two other Rukus locations, in Lafayette and Mandeville, where crowds also lined up early to score a pair.

“This (shoe) isn’t Ronnie’s, or Hunter’s, it’s the community’s,” Saurage said.

While the shoe itself depicts a crawfish boil with colors of bright red and yellow and the familiar Nike swoosh overlaid on the scene of a newspaper, the special packaging for the shoes only available when purchased from the Rukus stores is just as representative of Louisiana.

Saurage said they worked with Louisiana Fish Fry on the packaging, borrowing that company’s logo for use on the box along with the picture of a crawfish boil. Inside, the shoes are enclosed in a crawfish sack, wrapped by newspaper.

Added extras in the Rukus edition include custom-made crawfish socks with the cheeky phrases “eat tails” and “suck head” on the bottoms and a crawfish-themed skate shirt.

Hulin said the store expected to sell out of the 450 pairs of shoes at the Baton Rouge store, which sell for $170 with the special box and packaging, by the end of the business day.

They will be available for sale online to the rest of the world Saturday, at a cost of $105, in a typical Nike box without the special packaging and extras.

With all the customization and effort to represent Louisiana, it is no wonder that skateboarders and sneakerheads filled the parking lot and lined up outside the door all night to get their pair of the special shoes.

Some like Chris Anderson, who by 10:30 a.m. was at the back of the line to purchase his second pair after waiting all night for the first, said it was never an option whether he would fork up the cash and time in line.

Anderson’s first pair of “dunks” came from Rukus and there was no doubt he was going to wait in line to purchase the crawfish dunks.

While Anderson was adding to his collection, the crawfish shoes inspired others to begin their shoe collection. Rocky Smith, a self proclaimed sneakerhead, waited in line starting at 7:30 a.m. to purchase the crawfish shoes, which he said would be the beginning of his shoe collection.

Giambalvo, the Nike sales representative said the idea of local shops designing a shoe to be made by Nike isn’t new but is rare for the South.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything in this part of the South,” he said.

When people think of skating shoe fashion, immediately people think of the West Coast followed by New York, Giambalvo said.