Sneaker collectors, otherwise known as ‘sneakerheads’, are people who indulge themselves in the passion of buying and trading collectable sneakers. For some, collecting shoes has become a part of their identity; but for others, it’s become a means of living. 

Sneaker reselling has become a large part of sneaker culture, but some collectors believe that the culture is shifting away from the love of shoes, and more into the ability to make profit. 

Resellers make profit by taking advantage of brands with high demand such as Air Jordan and Nike, which are notorious for keeping highly sought out shoes at such limited quantity.  

Reniel Castillo, 26, a long-time sneakerhead and member of online sneaker community NikeTalk, said the key problem sneakerheads have with resellers, are that they control the prices on the sneaker resale market. 

“The people who just buy the shoes to turn around and sell ‘em, can price them at whatever they want. They have all the supply and they know collectors hold the demand. They can double or even triple the price, and the stupid thing is, people will actually pay that price,” said Castillo.

Castillo said he recently purchased a pair of Air Jordan 6 “Cactus Jacks”, which were made in collaboration with rapper Travis Scott. The limited-edition release cost $330 in stores, but could cost up to $1845 US on the resale market, according to a price check from Kicksworth, a website which appraises sneakers according to the current market value. 

 “I paid $1200 [for the shoes]. That’s probably the most I’ve ever spent on just one pair. I understand that there is value and hype behind the shoe, but I don’t understand where these figures are formulated, especially when buying shoes online — it’s ridiculous,” said Castillo. 

 The lucrative resale market has rapidly grown due to the popularization of online marketplaces and consignment sites, such as GOAT and StockX

 According to investment company Cowen & Co., the sneaker resale market is estimated to be worth $2 billion US, and is projected to triple in value by 2025. 

 Timothy Nguyen, 23, a sneaker reseller, said he takes advantage of the high resale market by ‘highballing’ buyers, which is a selling tactic that involves maximizing an object’s price to get the best possible profit. 

“Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. It’s not something I do to offend the sneaker community, I do it to provide for myself.” he said. 

Nguyen, like other resellers, said he gets a majority of his inventory through strategic in-store raffle techniques. 

“What I usually do is bring my friends or family with me to raffle whenever there’s a release. That way, it maximizes my chances of winning even one pair. Then I give whoever won, a cut — it’s as simple as that,” said Nguyen. 

Camille Llena, a Foot Locker employee, said that sneaker stores like Foot Locker, Champs and Livestock, have taken intriguing measures to ensure everyone has a fair chance at winning one pair during raffle draws. 

“When we do raffles, employees usually make sure that it’s not just one whole family raffling the same shoe size. We encourage customers to actually try and win their own pair, instead of cheating the system. It’s no fun that way,” Llena said. 

Llena said the best way to avoid falling for resale pricing is to pass up on owning a pair that’s unreasonably priced, regardless of “how bad you really want it.” 

“With collecting shoes, it’s not a need, it’s a want. You can live without it. Don’t give [resellers] a reason to keep doing what they’re doing. There will always be other shoes on the market. It’s not the end of the world,” she said.