By Eric Vallen
Certain individuals who model their mode of income around reselling shoes have consistently used online bots to buy all of the shoes they can once a company releases new shoes on their websites. Typically, these individuals have their own independent selling maneuvers that they perform on third party websites, where they demand extortionist amounts of money for shoes that were previously accessible prior to their prevalence in the shoe game.
The ramifications of these actions shows that resellers are indirectly tearing down long standing sneaker culture. By making most brand shoes largely inaccessible to those who don’t have the means to purchase them at raised prices, resellers take away from preexisting culture that was centered around the concept of most people having access to sneakers. Ideally, all people are open to be able to express themselves however they can, considering and conforming to the amount of money they have, through sneakers. However, because of the raised prices, many find themselves with insufficient funds for the shoes they want. Recently, many sneakerheads have vocally expressed their complaints online and at sneaker conventions, actively considering wanting “to quit the shoe game” per the NYT, wishing to be rid of sneaker resellers altogether due to the effects they have on market accessibility.
Much to the sneakerheads relief, accessibility to sneakers may be turning a new leaf in 2021. The largest shoe reselling scandal in recent history took place in early March of this year, one centered around the previous Vice President of Nike, Ann Hebert, and her son, Joe Hebert. The Heberts were performing direct and explicit insider trading, with Ann directing to her son information about discounts on shoes and when and where shoes were going to be sold before that information was going to be released to the public. These efforts were taken in an attempt to boost the profits of her son’s shoe reselling business, which at the point of Ann’s resignation, had become so ludicrous that it had reached generation of upwards of 600,000 dollars per month. For perspective, Ann Hebert, previous to her resignation, made 519,000 dollars a year. Eventually, Joe Hebert’s reselling scheme became so absurd before its fall that he created his own market through his “homegrown” business West Coast Streetwear. Typically raising prices upwards of 200% for any shoe, the model of his business has become an inspiration for thousands of individuals across the country.
Businesses like Hebert’s have become a clickbait marketing machine, with resellers marketing their own and concepts like Hebert’s as “get rich quick” schemes, prompting several thousands of small scale, individual or group owned businesses to pop up centered around shoe reselling. Due to this new crop of reselling businesses, competition between these businesses has obviously spiked, leading to the aforementioned usage of buying bots, which almost instantaneously buy every shoe from every mainstream brand name producer. With the emergence of widespread botting, the market for high-quality, brand name shoes is practically closed. To many, it seems that shoe drops are now auctions for resellers, rather than opportunities for those who want to buy the shoes. As a result of the competition that resellers themselves have created, they have fully destroyed and closed the sneaker market to normal, independent people, indirectly tearing down long standing sneakerhead culture and limiting the capacity to which individuals can express themselves through sneakers.