Dominique Oakman’s dream sneaker store concept has been brewing for years. But what he envisioned involved more than filling a space with sweet kicks. He wanted a place where he could meld sneaker culture with hip-hop, where you can “just vibe and be yourself.”
“I just wanted a place where we could blend that sneaker culture with hip-hop, poets, artists, and everything, where people could just come in and have fun,” says Oakman, who brings with him about eight years of sneaker-selling experience at his new shop, Tha 6.
The new buy-sell-trade sneaker shop and venue officially opened its doors at 5131 Dorchester Road (Suite 10) on Sept. 23 with a bang: that is, a DJ, a pop-up throwback apparel seller Kamasole, and giveaways, setting the stage for the kind of atmosphere he intends to maintain from here on out. It is the first black-owned sneaker consignment shop in the city. But it wasn’t as easy as picking a location, signing a lease, and getting the keys. Oh no, this is Charleston, where the words ‘hip-hop’ can undo a done deal. Seriously.
Oakman searched for a shop home for two years. “We wanted to go downtown, because it’s beautiful, but the biggest problem was people said, ‘I don’t know if the culture in this area is going to work with what you’re trying to do.’”
And by people, he means the guys holding the lease, the gatekeeper between an entrepreneur and his dream. One location Oakman almost landed was on Church Street. “One guy — I had the cash, and everything was in order — and the first thing he asked before I signed the money over was, ‘How loud is your music going to be?’ I was like, you don’t know what I’m going to sell, what I’m gonna do — you’re just worried about music? I mean, we’re not going to blatantly blast music and disturb people. So I had to keep searching, and we found this place.”
Oakman also considered other spots, like a mall, but ultimately decided on steering clear of places with early closing times and such. And in the end, he really fell in love with the idea of bringing his concept to Dorchester Raod. “I wanted to bring something to Dorchester that’s not seen here,” he says.
Oakman describes Tha 6, named after the sixth man in basketball, as a mini Flight Club, the biggest buy-sell-trade sneaker marketplace out there. “We just wanted to give a place where the kids can come, even if they don’t have any cash, they can still come in,” he says. “They got kicks? Bring ‘em in. We’ll still help you out; we’re gonna figure it out.”
Oakman didn’t do it all alone — everything from transforming the space, a former barber shop, to operating the store every day is done with the help of his fiance Alexander Melgar and his brother Christopher Oakman. His friend Brandon Huggins, owner of Kamasole clothing, has stepped up to help curate the music aspect of Tha 6’s events.
Tha 6’s next event is set for Sat. Oct. 21 and will feature another pop-up with Kamasole complete with champagne, a live, fiery spray paint artist, and music from BJ & MBs, Big Ghini,Atiya, Tyler Cash, Sunny Malin, Emperor Timeline, and Carti Hilniger. (All artists featured are from South Carolina: “We want to keep it in the state,” Oakman says.) The store will be open at 11 a.m., but the vibes start at 7 p.m. with DJ SCrib.