Written By: Ava Gerami
We had the chance to talk to Adrian, Spencer and Tyler, three 15 year old sneaker resellers, and ask them some questions about their unique part time job.
Starting by watching reseller YouTubers, the three saw how much money you could make from something they were already interested in, and their passion grew. They began going to events such as SneakerCon in order to get an insider view of the resale community. Like many teens, they were always looking for shoes to complete and match their outfit, but as they started learning more about sneakers, they began representing themselves through their shoes. When asking them what shoes meant to them, they said not only is it a way to express yourself, it also shows hard work, as many sneakers are hard to obtain, and the feeling of finally holding the shoe is unbeatable.
“Holding the shoe is unbeatable.”
Sneakers have three different ‘levels’ in the eyes of Adrian, the first being your classic Converse or Vans – which are good basics but can be found almost everywhere -, the second are Jordan’s that can be found at all FootLockers, and finally, the shoes that the trio focuses on, the sneakers with resale value and hype. These shoes are hard to get, and can be valued as high as tens of thousands of dollars.
Like many, they have favorite designers, and unanimously answered the question ‘if you could go to dinner with one designer who would it be and why’ with Virgil Abloh and one answered with Kanye as well. Their reasoning was that ‘everyone wants a pair of Off-Whites or Yeezys’ and ‘it’s amazing to see where they came from and how fast they’ve grown’. Adrian said he would ask how Virgil handles making millions of dollars off of designing shoes and clothing, as well as his thought process when designing. Tyler said that when he was in seventh grade and not many knew who Virgil was, he created a research project on him and was always intrigued by his work.
Reselling wasn’t the easiest process to start. At the beginning, Spencer said one of the hardest parts was ‘trying not to spend the money he made on himself’ and instead, saving it in order to have buying power – the capital needed to be able to buy sneakers – but also, not using all capital on one drop, and instead, distributing evenly. They use many methods of selling for their sneakers, such as Instagram, GOAT, SneakerCon, and primarily StockX, which guides them in breaking down the resale value. ‘It was hard to see other resellers being successful when we were only selling one shoe’ but the key to reselling is valuing connections over profit. Over the time the three have started reselling, they gained many, however none could be disclosed because backdooring – where you get shoes outside of the public release date, from the ‘backdoor’ – is technically illegal. Customer loyalty is also extremely important, they can negotiate and lower the price of sneakers if they know the customer will be back to purchase more.
Because they are grateful to be fortunate enough to live a comfortable life, they like to give back to those who can’t. When throwing a party, Spencer suggested his guests brought sneakers to donate to those in need. He felt he could use his passion to provide to people and hopefully give them the same feeling he has when he gets a new pair of shoes as well as a boost of confidence.
Amidst the pandemic, they are not able to camp out of store the way they did prior, but they have adjusted by using sneaker bots to buy them online. When they did camp out, they said their essentials to withstanding the 15 hour wait, especially in Chicago winters, were blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, portable chargers, long johns and of course, hot chocolate. With their countless memories, we had to ask if they had any crazy stories. They told us about a time they camped out for Satin Toe 1s.
After waking up hours before sunrise and waiting for several hours, the doors finally opened. Although they were relieved and excited to get a pair of shoes, herds of people started to cut them and others in line. This led to a big conflict at the store which ended in the police showing up and them going home empty handed.
Working in a group can lead to frustration when others are selling and you’re not. One example of this was in All Star weekend, when the trio rented an AirBnB in hopes of having a getaway filled with many sales. For Adrian and Spencer, their plan played out, but unfortunately Tyler had an unlucky weekend. This left him empty handed and unmotivated. Knowing that it was no longer in his control, he decided to stop worrying and enjoy the rest of his weekend. After being asked if they face backlash for reselling, they said it happens on a daily basis, and even faced criticism from their teacher, who said reselling ‘is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard’. Store employees also have displayed negative attitudes towards resellers with no reasoning. As well as this, customers who may believe a deal didn’t go well attempt to put blame on their young age.
Despite the obstacles they have faced, the three have grown immensely, starting with losing money on a sale, to making $1000 on a shoe. We asked for moments that they have realized that ‘they finally made it’ and some of their experience included selling and talking to verified resellers and Instagrammers including highschool and college basketball players, selling to a kingpin, and one of their greatest inspirations, the GOAT of reselling, buying from them.
With the growth they are achieving now, when asked where they see themselves in 5-10 years, Spencer said he would like to focus on getting into university with a full ride scholarship for kicking, whilst both Adrian and Tyler showed an interest in real estate, as well as creating businesses in black communities to empower people. They said they would see where reselling takes them and possibly continue their passion as a side hobby.
They ended the interview giving advice to those who may be thinking of starting to resell. Stay organized – write down all your sales -, have a plan and stick to it, make your business something people want to come back to, and most importantly, be confident.