‘The coolest shoes.’ Sneaker aficionados open an upscale storefront in downtown Macon

·7 min read

Jarredd Helms, Michael Paredes and Marquis Burns are sneaker aficionados.

The three friends and business partners own and operate Sixth Ave, a new upscale sneaker store at 482 First St. in downtown Macon. They feature brands like Air Jordans, Yeezys, Nike and Off White.

They also offer vintage T-shirts, sought-after hoodies and their own brand of T-shirts and shorts in limited editions.

Their business is also online.

From left, the owners of Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon: Michael Paredes, managing director; Marquis Burns, creative director; and Jarredd Helms, director of operations.
From left, the owners of Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon: Michael Paredes, managing director; Marquis Burns, creative director; and Jarredd Helms, director of operations.

Trade, trade, trade

In middle school, Helms, who’s the director of operations, did yard work to purchase his first pair of “the coolest shoes” for $50, which he immediately traded up.

“I started selling sneakers in middle school for personal use,” he said. “It wasn’t about the money in middle school. I just wanted to be like, you know, have the coolest shoes on.

“Everybody knew me for having the coolest shoes on, and I didn’t have much money. So, it was just like I had two or three sneakers I’d wear. I’d wear ‘em one day, sell ‘em the next or trade ‘em the next day so that by Thursday, I would have a different shoe. So, the whole year, I never wore the same shoe more than once. I would just trade, trade, trade and that’s how it was. It was all local trades. Nothing online.”

By his early teens, he was selling sneakers at Smiley’s Flea Market, and a couple of years later, he was selling them via Facebook and eBay.

The shoe shelf at Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon.
The shoe shelf at Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon.

Won a raffle

Paredes, managing director of their business, grew up watching his favorite people on the Internet wearing “the coolest shoes” that he wanted for himself but couldn’t afford.

Opportunity knocked when he won a raffle from an Atlanta shoe store to buy a pair of Travis Scott Air Jordan 1s at the retail price of $200.

“Once I walked outside the store, I had a group of people just come to me,” Paredes said. “I didn’t even take the shoes out of the box and they were offering me like $600, $700, $800.

“They were basically doing a bidding war like right outside the store. I ended up selling those shoes for $800 on the spot, and so, once I saw that, I was like, OK. I could probably make this into a business. I could probably make some money for this and be able to get shoes for myself.”

He started buying and selling sneakers on Facebook, Instagram and “any platform that would allow me to sell” such as sneaker platforms StockX and GOAT.

Paredes met Helms at a Sneaker Con in Atlanta in 2019.

He’d already been following Helms on social media, texting him for advice and had built his business model based on what Helms was doing.

Helms was set up at the Sneaker Con by a buddy in the military that had invested in him, fronting him thousands of dollars and they shared the profits from his sales.

Take a look inside Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon.
Take a look inside Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon.

Traded his PlayStation 3

Burns, the creative director for their business, met Helms at the former Bibb Skate Arena on Hawkinsville Road the year before it closed in May 2017. Helms had worked at the iconic rink for years.

“There was this short, red headed guy just zooming around on skates and I was like, Hey, who’s that guy?” Burns recalled. “I’ve been into sneakers since I was a kid, but I didn’t know he was into sneakers.

“We just purely met off just of a love for skating … and as we progressed being friends, I started seeing him resale sneakers and post more about sneakers and slot up and make comments on certain posts about sneakers. That’s kind of how we got on the sneakers.”

Burns didn’t buy his own pair of Jordans until he graduated from high school.

“I wanted to have it because everybody in my school was wearing them and those are the coolest shoes ever,” he said. “But my mom didn’t believe in spending $200 on a pair of shoes.

“I was one of those kids who had, you know, your black and white shoes, your nice shoes and then your play shoes.”

But once Burns did trade his PlayStation 3 for a pair of Olympic 7s.

“I don’t focus on selling,” Burns said. “That’s mainly Jarredd and Michael.

“I’m the one that comes up with the design, the brand, the theme, the layout and like the handling. I’m mostly a front man. I’m the first point of contact for a lot of things that we do.”

The Cactus Plant Flea Market x Swarovski x Dunk Low ‘Pure Platinum’ on display at Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon. Two of the three owners have a pair of these shoes valued unworn at $3,000.
The Cactus Plant Flea Market x Swarovski x Dunk Low ‘Pure Platinum’ on display at Sixth Ave at 482 First St. in downtown Macon. Two of the three owners have a pair of these shoes valued unworn at $3,000.

The hype

For those who aren’t sneakerheads, what’s all the buzz?

“They’re like collectibles, and for a lot of people, it’s just art that you could wear,” Paredes said. “It’s a hobby that you get into — just a very expensive hobby.”

Burns described the sneaker community in Middle Georgia in part as “a lot of different athletes.”

“In our community, you have collectors or people who are in just for the love of sneakers and then you have people who are resellers and then you have people that are the consumers that are just out here looking for the next, newest and hottest shoe and because they are super limited and hard to find, they know if they scour these communities and these groups, they have a chance of possibly coming across that sneaker.”

Nike, Jordan or even Yeezys brands often produce a select number of a certain type of sneaker, which drives demand, Burns said.

“So they might do 90,000 or 100,000 in the entire world and that means, you know, that shoe is super, super limited,” he said.

Sixth Ave, an upscale sneaker store at 482 First St. in downtown Macon.
Sixth Ave, an upscale sneaker store at 482 First St. in downtown Macon.

Why Sixth Ave?

In December 2021, the three decided to go into business together, came up with a name and created an Instagram account while at a Got Sole sneaker event in New York.

They got lost a few times while in New York and one time in particular when they were lost, they were tossing out potential names for the business when they looked up and found themselves on Sixth Street. They chose Sixth Ave because it had a better ring to it, Burns said.

They incorporated Sixth Ave on Jan. 1 of this year and celebrated the grand opening of their storefront May 28. They hope to branch out into clothing and potentially other venues under the Sixth Ave brand.

Inside the store, there are rows and rows of sneakers, as well as carefully selected vintage, local brand, Sixth Ave brand and high-end T-shirts, shorts, hoodies and ball caps.

Their best selling sneakers currently are Nike Dunk Low Black White, Jordan 4 Retro Infrared, Jordan 4 Retro Military Black and Nike Air Force 1 White, according to their website.

Some examples of clothing include a white Juice Wrld x Vlone 999 T-shirt, a brown Sp5er Angel Number Hoodie and HMDD Black Mets Mesh Shorts.

Their most expensive sneaker currently is the Jordan 1 Retro High Off White University Blue at $3,000.

Helms displays in the store his personal pair of Cactus Plant Flea Market x Swarovski x Dunk Low ‘Pure Platinum’ sneakers that he bought for $3,000.

He initially purchased the sneakers as an investment. But decided to wear them to the most recent Sneaker Con in Atlanta.

“I’ll be the only one in the building with those sneakers on my feet I promise you that,” Helms said prior to the event.

Store hours are 11-7 Monday through Thursday and 11-8 Friday and Saturday. Also, they plan to open on Sundays by appointment only for a fee that would go toward the purchase price, and they offer a shoe cleaning service. The best way to contact them is through the store’s Facebook page or website.

The store is located near Pearl Passionate Cuisine & Cocktails, a new casual fine dining restaurant.

Sixth Ave owners from left, Jarredd Helms, director of operations; Marquis Burns (seated), creative director, and Michael Paredes, managing director.
Sixth Ave owners from left, Jarredd Helms, director of operations; Marquis Burns (seated), creative director, and Michael Paredes, managing director.