The Sneaker Resale Market Is One of the Few Seemingly Unaffected by the Damned Coronavirus

Illustration for article titled The Sneaker Resale Market Is One of the Few Seemingly Unaffected by the Damned Coronavirus
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If your soul so beckons you to fly to Atlanta in April, right now, you can literally buy a round-trip ticket from Washington, D.C., for $36. You might not be able to do shit while you’re there, but hey, that ticket price is hard to beat. Granted, it’s on Spirit Airlines, but shit, Door Dash-ing two cheese pizzas right now will cost you damn near the same as a round-trip flight somewhere.

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Clearly, the airline industry is in trouble.

Bars, restaurants and Burlington Coat Factories across the country are closed right now and for who knows how long. The economy is in trouble; the government plans to pump $2-trillion into it to just get us through the next few weeks. I’m guessing food delivery workers in the gig economy are doing okay, but if one more of these folks doesn’t just leave my food at my front door like I asked, I’m coming out the house spraying Lysol with reckless abandon. The point is, everybody’s taking a hit right now.

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Except for the sneaker resale market.

Famalam. I was hoping that the silver lining of this maybe-maybe-not sick and shut-in episode would be a slight downturn in rare and highly-coveted sneaker prices. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that some shoes, like pretty much any of Virgil Abloh’s Off-White x Nike collaboration—for instance, the Air Jordan 1 Off-White-Chicago are going to be going for upwards of $3,500 even when the planet implodes, same for the University Blue joints at $1,200-plus—will always be on the higher end and even a drop in prices will be minimal.

But yo, Kanye is basically trying to live up to this ideal that every man, woman and child should have a pair of Yeezys and releases a new (but really the same old) colorway of his 350 v2s every week and they still manage to resell above retail. Last week, he released his Adidas Yeezy 350 v2 “Cinder” for their standard $220 price tag, and they’re on the sneaker resale sites like StockX or GOAT for upwards of $270 or $280! Shoes that would have more than likely released to actual sneaker retailers like Foot Locker are still begging for higher than retail prices. First, the Fat Boys break up, now this.

Even Lebron’s shoes—shoes that I know I saw in stores for retail at $200 three weeks ago—are pulling in above retail prices in some places. For instance, on Stadium Goods, a sneaker reseller with a storefront in New York City, the Lebron 17 “Lakers” colorway size 10 are priced at $295, an almost 50 percent increase over retail. The benefit to Stadium Goods is that you can get your shoes in as little as two days because their shoes are all verified in-store before they’re listed. StockX, however, has the same shoes for $164, a cool $36 BELOW retail. The downside? It can take up to two-weeks to get them joints since the shoes are listed by individuals and then must be sent into a StockX sneaker verifier (you will know that your shoes are authentic by the green StockX token affixed to the shoes via string) and then sent to you. I hate waiting weeks for shit so if the prices are close enough, I’d just go the Stadium Goods route. But why the fuck is anybody buying Lebrons off one of these sites anyway? They’re in stores! You dont’ have anywhere to wear them right now anyway unless you don’t care about humanity; you can probably wait for some Lebrons.

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Me, I have a short-list of shoes I keep my eyes on that I’ll probably never buy because I can’t justify the price tag OR the financial cost to my household. I want the Jordan 1 “Varsity Red” joints but on StockX they’re going for $615 in my size; on Stadium Goods, they’re $775. They’re $610 on GOAT so Stadium Goods is waaaaay overpricing. But again, I could have them by Wednesday so I could hug and stare at them, meanwhile if I go through GOAT or StockX, I’ll be waiting weeks. Oh, they retail(ed) for $200; only 23,000 pairs were sent to market. Admittedly, this whole convo is ridiculous especially during a global pandemic. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point this out. I know it and you know it. We all know it just like we all scream for ice cream. But the shoe game is a ridiculous one.

Honestly, I don’t need any of the shoes I’m paying attention to, I just want them. It’s an addiction. I check sneaker prices the way some folks check out stock tickers. I’ve stopped myself from making ridiculous sneaker purchases during this time of self-isolation and quarantine. It seems like nobody’s job is safe and I’d hate to cop some shoes for $1,000 (I’d never really do this, I don’t think) just to find out I’ve been downsized. My kids can’t eat my love for rare shoes (or hip hop). I will say that I do get excited though when I realize that a pair of shoes I’ve kept on ice (never worn, still in the box) is on the resale market for substantially higher than what I paid for them? I have several pairs of shoes going for $500-plus that I managed to get for retail. Go me. I do still wish prices would come down. But folks who spend a lot on shoes are going to keep spending a lot on shoes and I guess that means I’ll never be able to get those Jordan 1 “Varsity Reds” unless I inherit them from some uncle I don’t know who also happens to be a sneakerhead.

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In the meantime, when I’m not teaching my kids math or organizing my house, I’ll continue to monitor what amounts to the shoe stock tickers, looking for a steal. Let us pray that it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to put some new fire kicks on my feet.

I also pray for the end of this global pandemic. Amen and Ase.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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DISCUSSION

In my opinion, the people that would pay $1,000 for a pair of sneakers, still have a $1,000 to spend on a pair of sneakers. They’ll have an extra rack for years to come because their income (or access to capital) far outweighs what it cost to just have food, shelter, and water. They get money. The type of money that is connected to industries that usually don’t crumble in 3 weeks. My moms said that earlier in her life, she lived like she was on Section 8, even though she made 4x the Section 8 max salary. That’s why she can get laid off for 5 years and it wouldn’t matter much to her. Me on the other hand, I spend way too much of my money, more like 55% compared to her 20%. I live month to month, she lives year to year, some people live day to day.

Even my broke self can spend $1k on kicks. I wouldn’t, but mainly because I care way more about forged pistons and built transmissions than I do about sneakers.