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Dec 11, 2013

Start'em Young

In case you missed it, we recently dropped the latest additions to our F/W '13 clothing line.  Headlining the latest release was none other than the classic RIF.LA / Pushing Weight Tee in a simple black and white colorway.  

In addition we also released a new colorway of the No Trickery tee which features a simple grey palette with a black font.  

Meanwhile, back at the Traphouse Danny was busy making sure ALL of the new arrivals were accompanied by a picture for our web store.

Danny's playlist for the day featured Str8 Like That by Meek Mill... 
Who remembers when Dreams & Nightmares 2 would be played EVERY day?!

Check out some of the newest Player Exclusive gems we have
 in the shop.  It's not going to be too long until these Joe Johnson AJ 2's
find a new home.

Take your pick: Air Max 1 112 or Nike SB Dunk Low 112

The homie RRL Jason decided to drop by the shop with his daughter this week.

Check out her sneakershot below, rocking Jumpman Pro's from 1997.

S/O to Sneaker Head Confessions for stopping by recently and giving us this calendar.  

They got the calendar game on lock with beautiful ladies rocking some nice shoes.

Meet the youngest member of the Sneaker Head Confessions group.

Check out his sneaker shot here, AJ 4 "Toro"
If there's one thing we learned this week, it's that more and more
people with kids are deciding to start 'em young in the shoe game!

Here's a few additional sneaker shots from the past week.
First, we have the AJ 5 Bel Airs

2009 AJ 11 Spacejam

Nike Dunk High Pro SB Unkle

As you can see, Heffe is leading the Visvim Gang of RIF..

Until next time folks, we hope you are all having a good, and 
most importantly a blessed week.


Dec 6, 2013

7 Year Anniversary

Things have been busy as ever at the shop lately, as the Holiday rush is 
officially under full swing.Luckily, sunny days have continue although the chilly 
Winter weather has started again. 

We've got you covered on all the latest releases, below you can catch a 
glimpse of our newest arrivals of Jordans.

The "Heat" section of the shop, be sure not to forget about the numerous samples, P.E.'s, and other rares shoes on the top racks behind the counter.

The latest playlist at the shop featured Drake's Furthest Thing.

This song was played courtesty of Cris aka Sadboy Cris.

Carl flexing the CLEAN Roley on the job.

Now Available at RIF LA: AJ 11 Gamma Blue
What are your thoughts on the newest Holiday release from
Jordan Brand? These are set to drop December 21st.

Here's a look at the icy bottoms.

Finally, a look from the back of the shoe.

 S/O to these three for coming through the shop once again.  They all STAY rocking heat when they come to pick up even more heaters, they're holding down the Florida sneaker game whenever they visit us at the shop.

What better way to start off the sneaker shots of the week than with this lineup?

AJ 4 Eminem

AJ 3 Oregon Pit Crew

AJ 4 Marquette / Cal P.E.'s

Jackie Jin rocking his AJ 4 Doernbecher.

Manwell Un-DS'ing his 2013 AJ 1 Royals

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has been supporting us since day one.  Although it is hard to believe, we will be celebrating our 7-Year Anniversary TODAY.  In honor of this, we will be hosting an event tonight in Hollywood (Peep the picture below for details).  F.Y.I. the capacity is 350 people so we apologize before hand if we cannot let everyone in.  

We look forward to seeing you all tonight, once again thank you to each and EVERY one of our supporters who have made this possible.  Have a blessed and safe night.


Dec 4, 2013

Firstn15th Presents- Seven Years In: Jeff Malabanan

For this blog post, we would like to use an interview conducted by our good friend and fellow blogger, Drew 
aka Firstn15th.  He recently interviewed co-owner Jeff Malabanan about RIF and we thought it would be a 
fitting post to promote as we approach our 7 year anniversary.  Thank you Drew for this interview, and we 
will also be posting the follow up article/interview he will be posting this Friday which will be focused on the second co-owner Ed Mateo.

For RIF LA Co-Owner and President Jeff Malabanan December 6 holds a very special meaning to him. It's a day of accomplishment and another year that reminds him that not only is he aging, but his business is growing as well as succeeding by the day. December 6 marks the seven-year anniversary of RIF LA. 

Originally opened in 2006, RIF LA (short for Reinforce Los Angeles), is a consignment shop located in the heart of Little Tokyo. RIF LA is the one-stop shop for all your sneaker needs. You can find nothing but the rarest and most sought after shoes inside of RIF LA from original Jordan 1s, multiple PEs (Player Exclusives), Nike Runners, Kobe's, LeBron's, Kevin Durant's, Air Yeezy's, to almost every Nike SB model ever produced. If there's a shoe you've been on the hunt for and don't want to risk getting scammed on eBay, then there's a huge possibility RIF LA has it in their stockroom.  

I remember visiting the shop for the first time in 2008. The store was filled up with roughly 1000 shoes. The shoes I saw I knew I couldn't find at the mall and these shoes were actually in my size unlike the ones I'd come across at my local mom-and-pop shops. Towards the far right of the store was this small section of clothing that was also on consignment.

Flash forward five years after my visit and there's a new look to RIF LA: There are about a hundred times more shoes that are piled high on top of racks in the stockroom as well as behind the cash register. That little clothing section that was in the back of the store is no longer available. Malabanan along with his business partner, Ed Mateo, opened up a second addition to RIF -- RIF DOS -- that houses nothing but the rarest street-wear items from brands like Supreme, Neighborhood, WTAPS, Bape as well their own RIF brand.

If you head to RIF LA during business hours it's almost certain you'll run into a celebrity and/or athlete during your visit. Celebrities like Will Smith, Samantha Ronson, Tom Cruise, Scott Disick, Sienna Miler, Andy Milonakis, and DJ AM are just a small portion of celebrities who have came through the RIF doors. Celebrity Jeweler Ben Baller is a weekly customer and is always on the block hanging out multiple times a week. RIF has also been the shop that NBA players such as Derrick Williams, Demar Derozen, Demarcus Cousins, Jrue Holiday, and Rudy Gay come to during the off-season or when they're playing in town to make sure their kick game is proper. Los Angeles Lakers shooting-guard Nick Young always comes by and cashes out; and Center Jordan Hill recently came by and picked up a few pairs.  

Celebrities and Athletes aren't the only ones who stop by RIF LA. Rappers also seem to make the trip to Little Tokyo whenever they're in need of new gear. Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul have been going to RIF since the beginning of their rap careers and Dom Kennedy always comes by both stores and leaves with bags galore. Dom Kennedy recently had an in-store meet-and-greet event at RIF DOS that shut the whole block down with fans from all over Los Angeles. And Harlem's own ASAP Rocky even stopped by before his performance at the VMA's earlier this year and picked up a "Dipset" Supreme T-shirt.

But Malabanan treats his customers the same way whether they're an average joe or a well-known celebrity. He adopted this "Good People Helping Good People" motto a few years ago that signified just that. And GPHGP isn't something that is just screen-printed on the back of a t-shirt. RIF LA has volunteered in many activities for the community from donating used shoes to the homeless, handing out turkeys for Thanksgiving to passing out candy to children on Halloween. He also printed a shirt of "Andre The Bum" -- a homeless man who you can always find roaming the streets of Little Tokyo -- and all the proceeds went to the Los Angeles Mission.

Everything seems to be panning out for Malabanan. Everyone in and outside of L.A. is very familiar with RIF LA. It's almost certain that everywhere you go you're likely to catch someone wearing RIF apparel. Business is doing very well and aside from managing the two shops he is now starting to focus more on the RIF in-house clothing brand. He has recently signed a contract with Electus Entertainment to release a reality-television series about RIF LA. Details are limited, but Jeff says "Expect the show to have that Pawn Stars-like feeling, just with sneakers and all the shit that happens here on a daily."

This isn't the first time Malabanan has came out on camera though. During the early Black Hippy days Jeff made a cameo on the "Zip That, Chop That" music video where he's seen giving Schoolboy Q a pair of Ken Griffey's at the 1:57 mark. Malabanan later received a shout-out on Q's "Bet I Got Some Weed" track off of his mix-tape "Setbacks " that released back in 2011. "RIF LA Jeff, he got some weed," is what the rapper shouts towards the end of the song.

At 27 he recently became a homeowner with soon-to-be wife and high school sweetheart, Kaye. The two recently brought a beautiful baby girl, Shayla Rae, into the world a few years ago. So when Malabanan isn't at the shop, he's on full-time daddy duty feeding ducks at the park or taking those weekly Disneyland trips. His business has grown drastically that him and Mateo are now looking to expand RIF to Northern California before making the move to open up a RIF on the East Coast. 

"There's a lot more shoe-heads out there for sure," he replies when I asked why San Francisco was the best location for another RIF opening. 

But for Malabanan, the success didn't come overnight. There were plenty of long and stressful nights during the beginning stages of RIF LA. Losing his father just weeks before RIF opened he talks about opting out of college and taking the manager position soon after at just 20 years old. He also recalls working 11-hour shifts everyday for about three years straight because him and Ed couldn't afford to pay someone. Lastly, he also remembers the store being on the verge of closing down just after the first year of being in business. "Everyday would be zero -- a zero bro. It was hard dude. It was during the recession. No one was spending money and no one was working," Jeff says. But it was his childhood upbringings and a certain family member that made Malabanan strive to put in countless hours that made RIF LA one of if not the best consignment shops on the west coast. 

"She worked 16 hours a day as a LVN and saved up enough money to get an apartment and put herself through RN school. She fucking bought a house on her own without my dad. That's what really pushed me. If you spent enough time and really just focused than you can do anything."

The tone in his voice had said it all. A very determined individual that realized what his mother went through on a day-to-day basis to put food on the table during his childhood reminded Malabanan that hard work does in fact pay off. 

I recently had the opportunity to chop it up with Jeff Malabanan outside of RIF. Eager to hear his story, I let the voice recorder roll as we talked about his upbringings, what's been happening at RIF as well as what's next, and what the journey was like of being in business these last seven years.   

What up Jeff how you been?

Jeff Malabanan: Good Good. Same shit [laughs].

How's the wifey and baby girl?

JM: They're good, they're just at home chilling.

How's business been at RIF?

JM: Business has been recently booming. We're getting busy compared to a couple years ago. A lot more shoes coming in, a lot more shoes coming out and a lot more customers. Overall, a lot more busy than before.

The 7 year anniversary of RIF LA is approaching. It's crazy how time flies.

JM: Yeah dude. Years are starting to feel like three-month spans. Like times going by too quick. Next thing you know were going to hit our 10 year anniversary. Like damn, 7 years? Fuck, I'm old [laughs].

Different athletes, celebrities, and artists seem to be here everyday of the week. Which athlete/celebrity/artist would you like to come through?

JM: I would probably -- I would love to meet Kobe; I've never met Kobe. Kate Upton -- I'd like to meet her. I would also like to meet Jay-Z. I don't think we'll ever to get to meet any of those people but you know who knows. We're in Little Tokyo so a lot of random people come in anytime.

People from all across the world have come to RIF, why do you think so many appreciate and a love a store like RIF LA?

JM: I think because we're not just a shoe store. We display ourselves like -- if you go on our Instagram you can tell we're not strictly about money and selling shoes. We're not just all about business and meeting other people. We're like -- I don't know, we just seem friendly I guess. We're more friendly and a lot more open to talking to a lot of people.

Now I know you posted a picture a few weeks ago via Instagram of you in San Francisco. Is it possible for a RIF San Francisco coming soon?

JM: Actually yeah, we're waiting for a call right now. We were looking at Haight Street or Japan Town. So right now we're just waiting for the call. If we get a call back and the location in San Francisco is a thumbs up then it's going to be a go. That's how it is though -- the location just has to be the perfect location.

Why San Francisco?

JM: I think San Francisco -- I don't want to talk shit on San Francisco but I feel like they're late on things. There's a ton of shoe-heads out there and I feel like they need that. They have a couple consignment shops out there but I don't think they're doing it the way it should be; the RIF way I guess. There's a lot more shoe heads out there for sure. Like if you do a Dunkxchange in Los Angeles, you'll get maybe like 25 vendors. The last Dunkxchange in San Francisco had I believe 90+ vendors. So that just shows you there's a lot more people in San Francisco that are into shoes.

So you just want to take over all of California?

JM: If I could take over the world I would [laughs]. I feel like if we opened it in New York we wouldn't have the manpower to keep it running. If we had one in San Francisco, you can take that seven-hour drive anytime or you can take that one hour flight. You know, it's just a little bit closer and just not too far. If we opened in San Francisco, then hell yeah we'll take over California for sure.

Any other cities for potential RIF Openings?

JM: The only thing I could think of right now would be like Orange County. It's not too far from Los Angeles. I think Orange County we could definitely do something over there. I would do New York but definitely not right now. It's in the plans though in a couple of years.

When did you realize you wanted to open up a store and manage it for the rest of your life?

JM: [Laughs] Fuck I didn't. In 2007 that's when I got like that manager position. We were basically about to close down in 2007 after the first year. So in a way I was pretty much managing everything: money, consignment, and the website. Yeah I don't know --  it was just meant to be really. I was in the perfect position. The first year was when I knew I was really going to run it. It was to the point where I was going to run it with Ed.

Lets take it back to 2006 when you first started: You're a 20 year old kid with minimal college and a co-owner of a shoe store. Were you ever scared RIF wasn't going to turn out the way you pictured it?

JM: Yeah definitely. With all new businesses you're not too sure on how it's going to go. People say the first couple years are usually the hardest because you put in so much money to open a shop and you just never know if it's going to tank. Like the first year we were doing like zero-dollar sales a day. Everyday would be zero -- a zero bro. It was hard dude. It was during the recession. No one was spending money and no one was working. It was like fuck so how are we going to make extra money? So that was the point I made the decision to really like go to Japan and bring shoes to the shop. In the beginning not a lot of people would bring shoes to the shop. There were zero people bringing in shoes and zero people trying to sell through us. We just had to go to Japan and get our own shoes and fill it up ourselves.

In this 7 year stretch of being in business, talk about the ups and downs you've overcome to be in the position you're in today?

JM: There was nights for like a good three years where I didn't take no days off because we were just short staff. We couldn't really afford to pay anybody any type of money. Me and Ed everyday were like  -- Ed literally had to stay open at the shop. There would be times where I would have to come in at 11 and we closed at 7 but I would have to stay till 11 o'clock at night just to photoshop fucking pictures of shoes, make sure all the consignment is on the website, and make sure all of the orders were done. Like I was even dealing with Ed being fucking late all the time, him coming in drunk, and him making mistakes. You know you have to go through things like us bumping heads and just grow from things right there.

Again, you're a successful business owner with minimal college. What are your thoughts on college?

JM: [Laughs] I would say college is not for everybody obviously. But if you are going to go to college you need to have a set and focus on what it is you're going to be doing in college. You can go to college for how many years and bam you graduate with whatever degree; you still can't do shit with it. You have to make sure if you're going to go to college you have to be able to really do something with that -- whatever degree you get. I know a lot of successful people like millionaires that have dropped out from college and made it. You don't need to go through college to own anything. You need capital, an idea, a plan, and that's fucking it. You don't need college to tell you oh yeah here's a fucking degree go make $100,000. I know a lot of people who have degrees and are not making shit. Like I dropped out at like 19 or 20. It was right on the day of my final. I decided to go buy a shit load of shoes that day instead of going to my final. That's when I was like fuck this I don't need to go to school anymore.

What are your thoughts on all these consignment shops popping up?

You can't stop it from popping up. Every year someone is going to try and open it up and people have dreams of opening up a consignment shop. I can't knock their hustle or dreams you know. But I do feel like some of them aren't doing them for the right reasons. I don't want to name any names. To run a successful shoe store you have to be a real shoe-head yourself. I know consignment shop owners who are Chinese and never had a pair of Jordan's themselves. You can't just be in it for the money. Obviously, a lot of people are in business to make money but they love shoes or love what they're doing. A lot of consignment shops are comparing their prices to Flight Club -- some are actually higher. I feel like if you're going to do a consignment shop do it right. I'll be honest with you like at RIF we try our hardest to get prices down that were lower than Flight Club, but as we grew our prices had to grow with us. We were forced to keep our prices higher but it's still under Flight Club. Just in terms of these new stores if I can give them a tip I'd say they need to price their shoes lower than Flight Club because they're the highest price anywhere. Once your prices are higher than Flight Club then who's going to shop with you? Or what about if your website looks like Flight Club? That's another bad thing [laughs]. But it's not going to stop. Every year a new consignment shop is going to pop up and they'll close within a year or a couple of years. If they're really good then they'll stay open for more than seven years like us.

You have that hunger to strive for more and not be content attitude, is that something you learned on your own or did you learn that from someone?

JM: I would say I learned it from my mom. Like, she raised me and my three brothers alone. She didn't need my dad. She worked like 16-hour days and we would see her like five minutes a day straight up. I'd always see her and I knew why she was working. She worked for us. She worked 16 hours a day as a LVN and saved up enough money to get an apartment and put herself through RN school. She fucking bought a house on her own without my dad. That's what really pushed me. I knew if you spent enough time and really just focused than you can do anything.

Everyone sees all the success online, but talk about something people may not know about you.

JM: During childhood my mom had me when she was 21. She had my brother a year after. We really didn't have enough money so my mom would be living with her sisters, grandma, and brothers to the point where we had 20 people living in a one story home. My dad would have us half of the time but it was even more ghetto in Crenshaw. We were living in a one bedroom -- a one car garage. He created a wall where we had like one full bed in there. Me and my two brothers would sleep on the bed and my dad would be sleeping on the floor. We were just living in a one bedroom house. What we would eat would be like a $5 combo of Chinese food and bam we would split that between the four of us like everyday. It even got to the point where we took showers in the backyard. If we needed to take a piss -- we didn't have a bathroom in the garage -- we would take a piss in a milk gallon jug. It even came to the point where me and my brothers started going around stealing. We would go to the grocery store and steal steak. We would steal steak cause we'd be like "Damn, I want to eat some steak." We go in there and put some fucking steak down our hoodies. We were just fucking stealing to make extra money. We were bad back then me and my brothers. Anywhere I'd go I was stealing. If I went to Target I'm stealing something. Like I would go to Target right across from my middle school and I would steal Tech Decks, fucking pens, pencils, and all that shit. I would bring it to school and just sell it to make extra money like straight up. Any way to make some fucking extra money. It even got worse when we got older -- I don't want to talk about it -- but pretty much I've been to jail. We did bad shit where we fucking had to do what we had to do to make money It was rough yo. That's pretty much what it is.

You just have that hustler mentality then, am I right?

JM: Yeah. I remember my girl and I had picked up about ten pairs of "What The Dunk" SBs when they first came out. That night I listed them on eBay and within weeks I made around $18,000 in profit. Then when Takashi Murakami did his art show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Little Tokyo there was a Louis Vuitton Pop-Up Shop with items designed by Murakami. I went there every day before work and purchased a shit load of Murakami x Louis Vuitton bags then resold them on eBay. I made about $600-1000 on each bag and it totaled close to $20,000. I learned how to hustle from my pops. Growing up I saw what he did to provide for me and my younger brothers. He literally passed weeks before the opening of RIF LA, but I know he's been looking down on me ever since.

At any point are you shocked that RIF LA has become what it is today?

JM: To be honest, I would've never thought we'd be at this point. We have 128, 000 followers on Instagram now like we didn't buy any of those -- it just happened naturally. Yeah, I'm really shocked, like really really shocked [laughs]. I knew we were working hard on it but I didn't think it was going to be that fast. It's like what's next? Is it going to get better than this or is it just going to plateau? Is it going to decline? Me and Ed talk about it all the time like "How the fuck are we making this amount of sales now?"

What can we expect from RIF in 5 years?

JM: I would say we'd have at least two more stores. For sure within the five years cause fuck in five years I'm going to be 32. Yeah, two more stores and our RIF clothing store will be a lot bigger. We're busy right now and all this stuff is new to us. Like so many people want to fuck with us right now its crazy. Fucking crazy.

Any last words?

JM: I would personally like to thank all of our supporters, friends, and family for pushing us to the level we are at now. RIF LA is only where it's at because of the good people that keep us pushing to be the best. That's why we stay positive, focused, and surround ourselves with good people. Oh and I would say school is not for everybody. But, it's always good to have that Plan B you know. If you can make it with your Plan A then do it. If not have that Plan B cause you never know. If RIF falls off then I have to go back to school. I wish I went to school, finished, and got my degree but I didn't. Fuck it, whatever [laughs].

Stay tuned with Firstn15th for Part Two of "Seven Years In" with Ed Mateo releasing on Friday.