Even senior Aaron Gold’s friends don’t understand his passion for buying and reselling limited edition shoes. They think it’s as simple as buying some sneakers and then selling them off for more than they’re worth. For Gold, however, shoe resale is both a lucrative business and an enthralling hobby.
“‘You must be some spoiled kid who has a lot of money lying around to spend obscene amounts of money on shoes,’” all my friends say,” Gold said.
But, according to Gold, research and business analysis are just two of the aspects of shoe resale that most people aren’t aware of. For example, Gold tracks the high and low prices of different shoes using an app called StockX. He also researches the amount of a particular shoe that will be produced to make sure the shoe is actually a limited release item.
Merchandise resale is the buying and reselling of shoes, clothing, accessories and other items that are released in limited quantity by designers in order to make them more valuable and desirable.
“[Shoe resale is] almost like an iceberg. You see 10 percent, but the 90 percent you don’t see still exists; you just have to really get involved and get to know [the business] before you see that 90 percent,” Gold said.
According to Gold, buying and reselling shoes is similar to buying and selling stocks on the stock market.
“You have that share of that product that people want,” he said. “So, it’s more in-depth than people think.”
However, buying and reselling limited edition shoes and clothing can be a high-stakes venture.
Freshman Carlo Di Fronzo has seen a lot of his acquaintances who have tried to go into the resale industry fail and lose large sums of money. On the contrary, Di Fronzo has been able to avoid a similar fate, a success he attributes to his careful business style.
“I’m very patient and determined in what I like to buy,” he said.
Junior Ricky Fonseca, who sells limited edition clothes and shoes, is also aware of another sinister side of the industry.
“Since they are expensive items, [buyers] can blackmail you. They can tell other buyers it’s fake. They can try to rip me off, try to scam me,” he said. “There’s just too much drama going on, and it’s not like an insured business. It’s just two people mailing stuff to each other.”
Gold on the other hand uses StockX as a middleman to distribute his products and does not interact with buyers.
“You send [the shoe] to StockX which has a headquarters. They legit-check the shoe, making sure it’s real, because there are a lot of fakes—especially when you can make this much money off a shoe—and then they send it to the [buyer],” Gold said.
Fonseca, also used social media platforms such as Instagram and Reddit to connect with potential buyers.
“You get connected with the customers because you put photos up, you use hashtags,you follow people, people follow you. You earn a reputation,” Fonseca said.
Fonseca began buying and reselling limited edition clothing after investing in a pricey hoodie.
“I wore it a lot, people said I was cool, and then I sold it for twice the money,” Fonseca said. “Then I was like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna use the rest of this money to buy four hats, sell those hats for one and a half times how much I bought them for, use that profit and keep going—snowball effect.’”
Nevertheless, as Fonseca’s venture began to grow, it became too much about business and not enough about enjoyment. He decided to scale back his operation, only selling to people he knows personally.
“It wasn’t fun anymore. That’s why I did [clothing resale], because I like the clothes, but it just stopped being fun. Once it was controlled by the numbers too much, I quit,” Fonseca said.
Once after a transaction, a former customer made posts on Instagram falsely claiming that Fonseca had sold him a fake sweatshirt. The customer claimed that Fonseca had ripped the tags off of the hoodie before selling it to him.
“He had my address up on Reddit and on Instagram, and if you look up my name it comes up, so it was just really bad,” Fonseca said.
Fonseca removed himself from the fast-paced resale game and scaled back his business, limiting it to transactions with friends and acquaintances in order to both preserve his passion and protect himself.
Gold, however, is still involved in the business. In college, Gold plans on majoring in sports management, where he will be able to apply the valuable business knowledge and skills gained through limited edition shoe resale.
According to Gold, the marketing techniques used by shoe companies to draw customers to their products such as only releasing a limited quantity,crafting a brand-specific look or style can be applied to other industries.
In addition to upping his business savvy, Gold became part of a new community by pursuing his passion for limited edition sneakers.
“That’s kind of the allure of buying and selling shoes,” Gold said. “Obviously, you get really nice shoes, but it’s also a whole kind of community. There’s a whole bunch of different things that go into that process that make it more fun. It’s deeper than what people think.”