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sneaker-guyMax Walton wanted to buy his girlfriend something special last Christmas, but nothing he found in stores seemed right.

So Walton, 28, decided to put his artistic skills to work. Using plain white sneakers and colorful markers, he designed adventure-themed sneakers just for her.

“I did a pair of Converse shoes with her favorite cartoon characters on them,” says Walton, who lives in Oaklyn. “She loved them, but with one drawback – I bought the wrong size.”

Though it’s the thought that counts, that’s a mistake he’s never made again. Walton’s new business, 88 Customs, is growing through word of mouth, selling roughly four pairs of custom sneakers each month.

Clients request a theme, and Walton then creates a work of art. Each custom creation takes about a week to create, depending on the intricacy of the design. He usually selects Converse or Vans shoes for his canvas, though clients can use their own shoes.

Walton’s designs run the gamut from Pokémon and other videogame characters for kids to a hunting theme for an avid sportsman. He’s also designed shoes with business logos.

“The artwork is protected with Scotchgard, but just like any normal clothing, they can stain if the wearer is not careful,” Walton says.

Amy Gavaghan bought a pair for her son Doyle’s 10th birthday in March.

“He’s a huge Five Nights at Freddy’s fan, an online pseudo-horror type of game, and the shoes have his favorite character, Bonnie, on them,” she says. “They are slip-on Vans that he wears with jeans, and they’ve held up wonderfully. He loves them.”

So does his younger brother, Cooper, who requested high-top Converse sneakers in the Pokémon Go theme for his 8th birthday back in September.

“I like the fact that Max really takes the time to get to know his customer,” says Gavaghan, a fellow Oaklyn resident. “He asked about Cooper’s favorite characters, his favorite colors and what he’d like included. It wasn’t just what I’d want as his mother, but what would appeal to him the most. He speaks the kids’ language and knows exactly what they would like.”

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