HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: The unexpected return on investment for sneakerheads
I’m sure you’ve all heard about sneakerheads. These are people who absolutely cannot avoid buying sneaker after sneaker. Now, I’m not talking about your average off-the-rack pair of Tommy takkies. I am referring to often exorbitantly priced sneaker editions that come in very specific colour-ways. They're mostly not mass-produced and if they are, they certainly aren't available for very long.
We have Google alerts and all kinds of notifications turned on for the latest drop. This is when a specific long-awaited special edition is going to be released. It’s usually at midnight and if you’re not quick enough, you miss out. Some people settle for purchasing a size that will never fit. They wait until it’s not available to buy anymore and then make a profit by selling it to re-seller or a sneaker exchange, who in turn make additional profit by selling it to someone who has been searching for the pair for a very long time. This is something I have never done. I either get my size or I don’t.
The sneaker trade isn’t a bad part time business to get into. There is a lot of money to be made. Nike released, just the other day, a pair of Tour Yellow Retro Air Jordans. They were available in toddler, youth and adult sizes and within the hour they were all sold out. But there were a few resellers who managed to get their hands on some and sold them for double the amount for which they were initially advertised. I missed the purchasing deadline, so I got the last pair that fit from a small independent store for a small mark-up. But here I am 24 hours later with a pair of sneakers that’s already worth double the amount I paid. Will I sell them? Probably not. Could I if I was in a pickle? Definitely. And that’s not the only pair I can use to do this.
Not many people know that sneakers have several stock exchanges. It’s no different from having blue-chip shares, for example. Except, you can always get your hands on blue-chip shares whereas you cannot often get your hands on a pair of Nike Dunk Lows. The supply simply does not match the demand. And once a year, if you’re smart enough to keep them in good condition and rotate the wear so that they never crease, you can upload a picture and the serial number to one of the stock exchange websites and it will throw out the sneaker’s value, ask you if you would like to list them for buyers or trade them for something of the same value that’s perhaps a newer release but promises interest over time. I do this often. I check in on my investment the same way I would my shares. I forget about it for a while and then get a nice surprise.
Unfortunately, because I wear a size four, there aren’t that many buyers. But at the same time, there are hardly any collector’s editions in that size so their value grows exponentially. It’s a bit of a catch 22, or in the case of the sneakerhead with a small foot, it’s a potential catch 200%.
One boring evening while exercising my Olympic-level ability to procrastinate, I scrolled through Tik Tok and realised there was an entire collective of sneaker-heads who have all these strategies about how to hide their deliveries, or make excuses to their significant others about why they need the shoes. It was hilarious to me because the same anxiety crosses my mind every time I add something to my basket on a shopping website. “How am I going to justify this now?” Luckily, I have an extremely understanding and very intelligent wife who understands the brain’s architecture that someone who is prone to collecting a specific piece of art (yes, sneakers are art) possesses. We’re just wired differently. Also, she knew what she was getting into when she married me. This is not a new habit that I have to dig deep into my pockets to sustain while depriving my family of a hot meal or a roof over our heads.
Nevertheless, we had a conversation about it the other day when I finally got my hands on a pair of the Dunk Lows. It’s almost impossible to get these in my size so I had to buy them. I had been searching for a pair for two years, possibly more. A couple of years ago, I was a complete idiot and gave the one pair I had away and have not been able to find this specific sneaker since. But on this gorgeous Saturday, there they were. I I packed them up neatly and took them home with me.
My wife liked them. She doesn’t quite understand the appeal. But she liked them. And then she said: “Don’t you want to build some sort of display or something where you can put all these shoes so you can really enjoy them?”
I loved that this interrogation indicated that she recognised them as works of art. It’s like having a Basquiat and not hanging it on your wall, right?
“Why would you have it if you can’t look at it and observe it?” She was almost sad for me and worried that I wasn’t getting the most joy out of my collection as I could. It was very sweet and also very kind of her to offer that we should take what little space is left on our wall to build a display shelf for shoes.
But here’s the thing about displaying it: it’s for the possessor, not for everyone else. I don’t need people to be reminded of what I have. I don’t need to look at it. The enjoyment is like any other that lives in the heart. It’s pure; invisible to the naked eye and unconditionally loved, respected and admired.
We don’t really show people that our hearts are on our sleeves, so why would we show them our sneakers on a wall?
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