Not your grandpa’s sneakers: Rare sneakers create a competitive market


In big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, Black Friday happens every couple of weeks. This isn’t the typical midnight of Thanksgiving Eve, discounted Christmas presents Black Friday; these days are dedicated solely to sneakers sold at pop-ups. However, these sneakers aren’t the average Nike Air Force 1s; these shoes are worth up to tens of thousands of dollars, and lines to get in can wrap around blocks on end. And the thing is, no one knows exactly when or where to get them, since the location and times are dropped with short notice. 

Graphic by Mia Dunker

 What makes a majority of the sneakers so desired is that they are shoes that are no longer made, making them extremely valuable. Since the stores only remain for a day or so, sometimes even a few hours, the early bird gets the worm. Some buyers will even travel hours just to get a place in line with surprisingly little time to get there.

Though each pop-up is unique, a regular pattern of brands is displayed. Creighton Prep graduate Grant Heider ’18 tries to go to the pop-ups when he has the opportunity. From his experience, he said, “The brands that you can always expect are Supreme, Bape, Yeezys, Jordan’s, and obviously big brands like Adidas and Nike.”

WorkShop is a pop-up store that used to frequent Omaha’s Old Market. Recently, they put in a permanent store on 1125 Jackson St. Alley Suite 7, open six days a week. Not only do they sell exclusive sneakers, but they also sell designer clothes, bags, hats and even skateboards. 

Some of the shoes are even collaborative designs with popular influencers, typically in the musical or athletic field: Kendrick Lamar with Reebok, David Glover (i.e. Childish Gambino) with Adidas, Cardi B with Reebok, Travis Scott with Air Jordan and Alexander Wang with Adidas. 

However, the sneaker pop-up business acts like a (legal) black market. Without having to identify as an actual store, a pop-up can sneak through loopholes. “The owner of the pop-up can sell any item at any price they want, and they receive 100 percent of the profit because they can avoid taxes,” Heider said. 

Although pop-ups still occur, websites and apps have started to take over the sneaker game. “Today, there are resell apps such as StockX and Goat where you can find pretty much every single rare shoe on the market,” Heider said. Some of the credible apps even have the shoes shipped to their own company first to guarantee that the product is authentic. Especially today, with COVID-19, buying from home has become a more popular option. 

Similar to the pop-up shops, the online options carry shoes that are no longer made. This allows the sellers to price their shoes up to thousands of dollars more than the original price in order to meet market demand. 

More bona fide, or reliable, apps operate like the stock market, turning the hobby of searching for rare sneakers into a mathematical science. On StockX, there is ticker tape, the red and green arrow statistics, that runs along the top of the screen to display the rise or drop in shoe prices. In order to sell the shoes, the seller must set a minimum price, and from then on, buyers bid their top prices and the highest closes out the deal. 

Whether physically in a shop, or through online bidding, dedicated sneaker collectors are willing to put in sweat and tears to find the shoes of their dreams. Retailers and buyers from all around the world participate in this network, allowing it to be a diverse market with rare products. 

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