Tarik Nasser was only in the third grade when he fell in love.
It was at the mall where he spotted the object - or objects - of his affection: a pair of Reebok basketball sneakers named "The Answer" after NBA star Allen Iverson. He begged his father for months, and eventually, they were his.
It was the start, Nasser says, of a lifelong infatuation and a collection that has grown into so many shoes that he "can't even put a number on it." Now he's sharing his passion with the rest of the Bay area.
On Sunday, the Bay Area Soleciety Charity Sneaker and Fashion Expo will bring together sneaker enthusiasts to buy, sell, trade and view shoes and clothing from more than 80 vendors. Admission to the event, from 4 to 8 p.m. at T. Pepin's Hospitality Centre in Tampa, is $15 at the door.
Nasser, a 22-year-old Hillsborough Community College student, co-founded the Bay Area Soleciety earlier this year with fellow students Al Ameer and Morgan Chan.
"Nobody had brought to Tampa a place where all the people who relate to the clothes and sneakers we love could come together," Nasser said. "Tampa is a really big city. People might not realize it, but there is a lot of fashion here."
Nasser said the first Soleciety expo in April brought about 300 visitors to the Embassy Suites on Fowler Avenue. A summer expo at MOSI brought out more than 1,000 people. Now he's expecting Sunday's event to be Soleciety's largest yet.
"You're going to see people with sneakers that go for $1,000," said Nasser, who plans on displaying about 50 pairs from his own collection. "These are the kind of sneakers that people camp out in front of stores for days to get their hands on."
Part of the proceeds from the expo will benefit Metropolitan Ministries, a charity that works to aid Tampa's homeless. Attendees can donate gently-used shoes to receive raffle tickets to win a pair of Air Yeezy I sneakers, which were produced in collaboration between Nike and rapper Kanye West. There will also be a raffle for several pairs of Jordan brand sneakers.