The Wall Street Journal

Inside Sneaker Con: 500% Markups and Millions in Profit


Sneaker Con co-founder Yu-Ming Wu and Hayden Sharitt, a 21-year-old resale business owner, take us inside the industry where some sellers make millions of dollars on pre-owned shoes, as they attend a sneaker trading show in Cleveland. Photo/Illustration: Tyler Clark/Drew Evans

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(upbeat music)
- My largest deal ever was a little over $70,000
for around 115 pairs in one day.
The first sneakers that I bought for myself,
I was in middle school, I went broke
and eventually had to list them on Craigslist.
And people offered me more than I paid and I had worn them.
Ah. - Make sure.
- And I was kinda confused why someone
would want a worn sneaker.
But I realized I could make some serious money in it.
Let's go ahead and get some out the van too.
I like to consider myself
an aftermarket specialist in sneakers.
Come on, come on.
Come on.
That's how you do it.
My first year selling sneakers, I made around $30,000.
And this year, I'm on target
to make somewhere in the six figures.
I'm very avid on working hard.
And I try to get 12 to 13 hours of screen time
on my iPhone every day of just buying shoes
and looking at the prices daily.
I brought around 250, 260 pairs today.
And I'll probably sell like 150 to 100 pairs today.
In 2013, I started selling mostly on eBay
and some on Craigslist and Instagram.
Since then, the game's evolved
and I've started selling on app platforms,
such as Go and Sneaker Con app,
as well as Stadium Goods,
and I also attend every Sneaker Con in the world.
- We're here at Sneaker Con Cleveland.
We have about 250 vendors today,
and we're expecting somewhere between five and 8,000 people.
- I came here four hours before the opening.
I would've been here five hours
if I would've woke up a little bit earlier.
- And the first time I saw it,
I could make money on shoes,
I was super happy that I can actually do this
at like a young age.
I don't need a job to make money.
- Say you can't pay rent, you have a shoe,
you might have to sell that shoe just to pay your rent.
So, I mean, it's a good business to get into.
- When I used to get an expensive shoe,
it used to be a thrill.
Now, it's like, just open the box,
and it's just another shoe
I'm gonna make some money on. (chuckles)
- [Yu-Ming] Sneakers for a very long time
were just for your feet, for performance.
And eventually sneakers became collectible.
- Hey.
- In our early age I was really into comic books.
I read a lot of them.
I realized there was a convention for comic books.
And I also love sneakers, and I thought,
why wouldn't there be a convention for sneaker-heads.
The sneaker aftermarket today,
I believe, is probably somewhere between
three and five billion dollars.
Today we do over 13 shows a year around the globe.
Between tickets and sponsorship,
we can walk away with a show
with a profit of about a million dollars.
- Sneakers is more than just looking cool and fly like,
you can make money.
You can help people out like it is a life-changer.
The advantage of selling at Sneaker Con
instead of selling on online platforms
is there is no seller fee.
So you can get that 10% on every sale.
You guys got any questions, just let us know.
There's a lot of demand right now for Jordan 1s and Yeezys.
And I've been fortunate enough to meet the right people
and be able to get some of those shoes at great prices.
I can buy a lot of these in bulk and get good deals on them.
- How much for all the blue shoes?
- $15 lower than every one.
- Some of the most successful sneaker traders out there
are the people who actually also see
long-term value in sneakers.
They really look and study the trends and study the history.
And really predict the future.
They're kinda like stockbrokers or like stock traders.
- I got money, don't mean I'm gonna spend it.
- Too mean.
Are they brand new?
Worth it?
Thank y'all though.
What a waste of time.
So I've just been very good at predicting
at what's the next wave and what's not.
But I'm screwed up a lot
but I've been right a lot of times too.
- What makes a sneaker valuable?
There are a few traits.
One of them is how rare it is.
Who the potential collaborator it is.
How on-trend that sneaker is.
And how sought after it is.
I think the Air Jordan line
is one of the best examples of sneaker value.
If you compare a sneaker to as highly as a Ferrari,
if you drive it, it still kinda holds its value,
and as you go forward into the future,
there'll be less of this model.
There are some Ferraris that carry its value
and there is some that doesn't.
The Air Jordan line continues to be one
of the best investments.
- Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
- I'll take all of them at 470 a pop.
- No, way too low.
So this is the Yeezy Static 700,
retail was 300 plus tax, is like, 310, 320,
depending on where you live.
And I paid a little over 400 and now they're going for 550.
Selling him 10 pairs.
You all do the math.
You get some decent money on them.
- Sneaker reselling can become very, very profitable,
and it can actually become a full-time job for anyone
who spends enough time and does enough research.
There are true players in this game that trade
on a very serious level, and they make millions of dollars.
- 22, 23, 24, 25, good right there.
- [Man] Thank you.
- [Hayden] Thank you.
So it started off real slow today.
The first hour or two is probably one of the worst
like Sneaker Cons at first.
But since like 3, 3:30 people were just buying recklessly.
You got the cash right?
- Yeah.
- [Hayden] You got cash right now?
- I got cash, PayPal.
- Three, four, five, one, two, three.
Today, I've made around 18 to 22,000 in sales.
And in profit, four to 6,000.
I feel pretty good.
It's not the best ever, but it's a solid day.
Not many people make that in one day.
There you go bro. - Thank you.
- Thank you so much. - You're welcome.
- [Man] Yeah.

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