The hunt to find the best specialty sneakers can be a challenge in the Lehigh Valley. Willie Burns and Aaron Milan, owners of Properly Laced, have made it their mission to find the best product for their specialty sneaker store in Downtown Allentown.
Keep reading to learn more about how they brought their vision to life, and get excited to get a new pair of sneakers next time you’re in Allentown.
Name and title: Willie Burns & Aaron Milan, Owners
Business address: 107 N 7th Street, Suite 110, Allentown, PA 18101
What is your business name? Properly Laced
What products or services do you sell? We sell high-end Jordans, Nikes, and Yeezys as well as Hyped clothing Supreme, Fear of god, kith, etc.
Describe the vibe of your store. Properly Laced feels like no other store in the valley. The visuals are aesthetically pleasing, the setup is very clean, and we’ve been told many times it gives that New York City vibe. It’s very welcoming and comfortable to anybody that comes into the store.
What is the one thing your business is known for, over your competitors? We would say our number one difference is our clean, sleek look. We go above and beyond to make sure our customer service is exceptional. No matter how many people are shopping, you will always get that one-on-one experience you deserve.
Explain why you’re known for that. Since we opened, our number one feedback from customers has been about the visuals, aesthetics of our shop, and customer service. This does not only go for our Flagship Location but all our locations since we first opened our Bethlehem store in 2021.
Walking into our store is a different experience from anything else in the Lehigh Valley. From the wall of Supreme skateboards to our posters of the most iconic and influential athletes and designers, to our original Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan memorabilia Properly Laced is something like you’ve never seen before. As soon as you walk in you will be greeted with a smile and warm welcome.
We go above and beyond to ensure that every customer is satisfied with their shopping experience. We are not your average sneaker store. If need be, we will do local drop-offs, open outside of business hours, and come in on days off just to make sure our customers are satisfied.
How did the business get started? As young kids who loved and were born into the sneaker culture, we always had dreams of opening our own store. Fast forward to years later the right opportunities presented themselves and we were able to make our dreams come true. Willie was working on the retail end of the sneaker industry while Aaron was building a customer base and inventory for what would eventually become Properly Laced.
When Willie decided that he no longer wanted to be on the retail end of things, nothing else made sense but to team up and do everything we talked about when we were younger. We filed for our LLC the next day and officially became Properly Laced.
We worked for about a year building inventory and meeting new customers along the way. One day we were invited to a pop-up shop on South Side Bethlehem and that’s when we met Christian Colon from C23Ink. We all instantly clicked and within 2 weeks of the pop-up, we were setting up our first storefront location on the front end of C23Ink tattoo shop.
Why did you choose to open your business in Downtown Allentown? Originally most of our business took place in the Allentown area before our first location. Moving to Bethlehem was a challenge we took on being that we were moving further away from our customer base that we worked so hard to build. When the opportunity to open a pop-up location in Allentown came up, we saw it as a sort of “coming home.”
Being originally from New York we love to see the way the city has grown over the years. From new buildings and billboards to restaurants and venues, we are very excited to be a part of the city’s culture. We are very ecstatic about Allentown’s future and happy we get to grow with it. We know big things are coming and Properly Laced is here to stay.
Tell us about the biggest “win” in your business’s history? Explain what it was, how it came about, and what it meant to your business. In our opinion, our biggest win would be opening our flagship location. We went from selling shoes out of Willies basement, sharing a location with C23Ink, to opening our downtown pop-up. Now we finally have a long-term permanent location.
This has been significant to us because even though we were already a storefront it felt like taking that next step by opening something that was ours. It allowed us to create the space that we always dreamed of providing for our customers. We want to thank the city of Allentown for giving two kids with a vision the resources and opportunities to fulfill that vision.
What is the biggest risk your business ever took? Explain what it was, what could have happened if it had gone wrong, and the end result of the risk. I think the biggest risk we have taken was opening a storefront. It’s very hard going from selling sneakers out of a car or a house to running a storefront, but this was a challenge we were willing to take. You go from having minimal bills and expenses to running your business and having an overhead plus so many more responsibilities. Those hours you once spent driving from city to city to build inventory at retail stores become hours of time spent working on your own.
We had to find different ways to source our inventory as well as sellers who would provide us the bulk we needed since we no longer had the time to get it ourselves. Throughout that, we met great people and even developed a “team” to help us secure the items and inventory we need. There is a lot that could have gone wrong along the process, but we always had faith in our vision and what we could bring to the table. We knew with the right efforts and situations we could build this into something unlike anything the Valley has ever seen.
What are some of your store’s goals for the future? Our main goal is to keep providing the Lehigh Valley with a unique and diversified shopping experience. We want to continue to build our company to the heights we know we can take it. We also want to get involved with the community and give back as much as possible whenever we can. We are only a short 2 years in so who knows what the future holds for us, but we do know it is bright!
Tell us an interesting and fun fact about your business? Other than partners, we are actually cousins who grew up in the same house raised as brothers. We feel like not a lot of people know that about us and it makes our story that much more interesting. Imagine doing everything you spoke about as a young kid with the person you talked about it all with. What could be more interesting and fun? It hasn’t always been the easiest but the bond we developed as children allows us to get through certain obstacles that would usually be harder for people without our relationship.
What events do you have coming up? We are hosting a live podcast at our Allentown Location on May 28th. We have a lot more ideas and things planned for the summer that we hope to make come true with the help of the city. We also plan on doing our first annual back-to-school drive at some point in August.
Tell our apartment residents about the offer you have on Cobu? Our offer is 10$ off $100 or more spent at our store.
What’s your favorite lunch food for you and your team? We would say a good lunch food for us would either be some good wings or tacos.
What’s your favorite quote, and who originally said it?
If you have a dream, protect it and keep it close. Always take steps to turn that dream into reality. Doesn’t matter if there are baby steps, or giant ones as long as the direction is forward! -Properly Laced
Are you interested in leasing retail space in Downtown Allentown? Contact Megan Colon firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour today!