A businessman invested £5,000 in a garden bar with a twist – modelling it on an Adidas shoe box as a tribute to his 150 pair trainer collection.
With England in its second national lockdown this year, John Clark can still sip a pint of lager as he watches football on TV in his very own bar.
John, of Woodley, Greater Manchester, who runs a floor laying firm, had it built during the first lockdown.
Despite taking pride in his huge collection of trainers, which he keeps on display in his office and estimates to be worth £20,000, the 50-year-old – whose wife Kerry, 48, and son, Connor, 20, work for his business, while his daughter, Hollie, 22, works in retail – says the shoe box look of his bar came about more by accident than by design.
After he and Kerry agreed to build their own drinking den, engaging the services of Build-A-Bar, a patio company in nearby Bury, when designer Ray, 54, presented the plans in July, John had a sense of deja vu.
He said: “The proportions actually looked like a trainer box, so I said, ‘Why don’t we make it look like it has a lid?’ Ray must have thought I was a bit mad, but he said: ‘It’s your shed, you can do what you want with it’.
“When the missus found out about the design she said: ‘You’re having a laugh’.”
Taking from July to September to build the structure himself in evenings and at weekends, once it was completed, John – a keen marathon runner, for which his many trainers come in handy – added the Adidas logo, matching the design as exactly as possible.
He said: “I used the Adidas box and scaled it all up, so it’s as exact as possible – except for the label on the front.
“Each individual zig-zag of the Adidas stripe had to be cut out by hand and I’ve got the scars to prove it.”
Persuading Kerry to have a giant 16x8ft shoebox at the side of the L-shaped garden of their five-bedroom detached house meant some trade-offs.
John explained: “The deal we struck was I’d have the look I wanted on the outside and Kerry and the kids would have the inside.
“This means that, when you open the door, there is absolutely nothing to do with trainers inside.”
He added: “It’s like a traditional boozer – all dark wood, beer pumps and we bought some bar furniture from an old pub in Liverpool that’s from the 80s.
“Kitting it out cost us £700.”
Furnishing the bar was simple compared to painting it, as John was determined to match the iconic Adidas blue shade as closely as possible.
He said: “By sheer coincidence, I bought the paint at Paintmaster in Hazel Grove, Stockport, which is also where Adidas UK’s headquarters is located.
“I went into the shop with a shoebox lid and said, ‘Can you match this colour?’
“Lo and behold, the man behind the counter said, ‘Oh yeah, one of my customers is somebody who works at Adidas. I’ll get you the colour reference.’”
John said: “Everyone who’s seen it has said how fantastic and amazing it looks. I haven’t had any negative feedback at all. ”
Reflecting on his love affair with the German sports brand, John said he started seriously collecting Adidas trainers in 2010, to revisit his youth.
He said: “I’m a child of the 80s. I remember going to high school, seeing all the older kids in these brightly-coloured Adidas trainers thinking, ‘One day, I’d like some of them. ‘”
“I remember doing a paper round when I was 14 to pay for my first pair – Blue Gazelles, which cost me £30,” he continued.
“Being a huge football fan, having the right gear is like a subculture and I started going to games and wearing the bright coloured tracksuits and Adidas trainers.
“Then, 10 years ago, I decided to revisit my youth and start collecting them.
“My collection is predominantly pre-1990 and mostly mid-80s,” he said.
“Although I do buy current releases, I buy them more as an investment in the future, as the resale market is ridiculous. You could buy a pair for £90 and sell them on the following day for £200.
“But I don’t really bother with that. I buy the new releases to trade-off to buy the vintage stuff. There’s a lot of people wanting to swap.”
“It’s a bit like swap shop in the 1970s and that’s why people use Instagram and Facebook, as well as forums where people are wanting to trade,” he added.
“A lot of the trading is done on trust. I’ve sent pairs over to Slovenia and the Czech Republic to collectors, all on trust.”
John – whose most prized possession is the pair of Blue Gazelles that he bought in his youth – has spent upwards of £350 on a single pair of trainers.
He said: “I’m probably missing two that I’ve wanted since I was a kid, those being a pair of West German-made Amsterdam’s and Romanian-made Paris.
“They can go for £400, but they are rare. It’s a bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark with searching for them.”
And John, who has an Instagram page where he shows off his rare and vintage collection, will also be wearing his prized footwear for an outing in his pub.
He said: “I’ll be wearing the Adidas in there, but I’ll be putting a sign up outside that says no Nike allowed. I’m not having any of that in there.”
While he will be raising a glass alongside his family bubble to missing loved ones during the latest lockdown in his garden bar, he cannot wait to invite them to join him in his shoebox boozer when restrictions lift.
He is also looking forward to a special trip to Berlin with Kerry next year, when she has agreed to visit Solebox, an iconic trainer shop, with him, so he can find the next pair for his collection.
But Kerry has laid the law down when it comes to the design of their next garden project – a hot tub – insisting that an Adidas logo will be nowhere in sight.
John said: “Kerry has made it clear the hot tub decking area will be a traditional grey and brown colour.
“That’s fine by me. I can sit in it and admire my garden bar. You can’t miss it. Cheers!”