Sneakers
From the ground up

Not every sneakerhead is in the game for the same reasons. Some are in it for the nostalgia, still in love with the pairs they wore in their teens. Some are in it for the flex, addicted to posting their latest pickups on Instagram. Some are in it for the straight profits, running their sneaker closet like a business.

Regardless of how you got into sneakers, these days it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the shoes dropping every weekend. The reality is, eventually a time will come when you need to liquidate some of your stash, either to make way for new pairs, or simply because you feel its time to downsize the collection. In turn, sneaker-specific marketplaces like Grailed, Klekt, StockX and others have been on the come up, connecting buyers and sellers around the world.

For those who are new to the hustle, here’s a step-by-step guide to selling your sneakers online:

Photographs

First, taking the right photographs for your listing is essential. Before you get started, remember to stay away from taking product images from another website. No matter what you’re selling, avoid running a Google search or pulling images from the Nike website.

Make sure all your photographs are original photos; it’s the first thing that could potentially drive people away from trusting the authenticity of your shoes and listings.

Most sites require original, tagged images as part of their guidelines, so it’s always a good call to grab a sticky note, jot down your username and date in legible handwriting, and use that as your personal watermark in your photos.

For the pictures, cover your bases, and include a wide profile shot of the sneakers, as well as three or four detailed shots from different angles. If the item is deadstock, it’s always smart to include a photo of the tags, receipt, and even the label on the box, as well as a shot of the outsole as evidence that the shoes have not been worn.

For highly sought after sneakers, buyers will be especially wary of counterfeits. In this case, it’s useful to search “real vs. fake” guides online. A number of dedicated Instagram accounts are also helpful for this, including @fake_education.

Consulting these guides can prove to be especially useful so you know exactly the type of detailed shots you need to take for any smart buyer who will want to review the shoe in detail to look at specific differences between a real and fake pair. This will also help you avoid followup questions and photo requests from potential buyers.

This is especially important if you don’t have the original receipt to your sneaker purchase, as buyers will expect a certain level of comfort before committing to buying.

As for photographs, make sure there’s proper lighting and use a consistent background for photos. Flight Club’s Instagram feed is a good example. They use simple, clear backgrounds to accentuate the details of sneakers. Use a professional camera if you have access to one. Otherwise, most smartphone cameras will suffice.

Description

Now that you have your photographs, the description of your sneaker listing is next. For this, let’s use the Air Jordan 1 Retro “Royal” as an example. Use a site like StockX or Flight Club to search for your shoe. On the site, you will be able to find the style code of the shoe, which you can include in your description if you’re the meticulous type. Of course, it is important to include the shoe size as well.

If you’re selling worn sneakers and there are any imperfections, be sure to highlight those in your photographs and go into detail in describing them in your description. The key is to always provide more information that you think would be required to avoid any misunderstanding after the transaction has occurred.

In general, these specific details should always be covered in your description:

Condition

If your sneakers have never been worn or tried on, you can list them as deadstock. Otherwise, you have to use your discretion in describing the condition of your sneakers. Make sure you’re honest when you’re selling or trading a pair of used sneakers. Shoes are often appraised with terms like “VNDS” (very near deadstock), or on a scale of 1 to 10, so try to use your best judgement.

The “VNDS” appraisal is very subjective, so if you know how many times (estimated) you’ve worn your sneakers – whether it’s once, five or 10 times – be upfront with potential buyers. For sneakers that have been thoroughly worn (referred to as “beaters”), you might be out of luck. You will probably find a buyer for an 8/10 pair of YEEZYs, but don’t waste your time listing a pair of beater Vans that you thrashed the whole summer.

Here is a short glossary of other sneaker terms to help you out:

DS – Deadstock
VNDS – Very Near Deadstock
OG – Original
PE – Player Exclusive
LE – Limited Edition

Price

Before settling on a price, run a search on aforementioned site StockX to quickly gauge the value of what you’re selling. Remember, the price you set should be fair compared to the market price, so you’re being compensated properly for the sneakers you want to sell and fair to prospective buyers. If your prices don’t align with the market, you will either be underpricing yourself out of value or overpricing yourself and thus not getting any responses to your listing.

If your shoes have been worn or have imperfections and you are listing the sneaker at well below market, it’s worthwhile to explain why you’re selling them in the first place. Buyers are often (and rightfully) skeptical if a price point seems too good to be true.

Also consider what your shipping cost will be, and either build that into your listed price, or add in a “price + shipping” clause so you don’t agree on a price and then realize you have to cover for shipping halfway around the world.

Payment

If you’re transacting through PayPal we’d recommend paying/receiving the money as “goods or services,” regardless of which online marketplace you’re using. If a buyer claims they didn’t receive their item, the protection policy will cover sellers for the full amount of the payment, as long as you can produce a receipt or proof the item was shipped.

Online Sneaker Marketplaces

In the United States, Grailed has become a go-to destination for resellers, with sellers of bootleg goods being rightfully banned. When an item sells, Grailed takes 6% commission (plus applicable PayPal fees: 2.9% + 30 cents for domestic and 4.4% + 30 cents for international).

For Europe, Klekt is quickly becoming a respected online marketplace as well. It’s free to list items on Klekt, but 5% commission is taken from the PayPal transaction.

StockX‘s no-fuss platform is perhaps the easiest and least stressful for both buyers and sellers. Once your product is sold, StockX acts as a middle man to verify authenticity internally, even providing sellers with a UPS shipping label directly to their Detroit facilities. After StockX confirms the pair is authentic, the seller gets paid immediately, without having to wait for the buyer to receive the shoes.

Lastly, eBay is still a great place to list sneakers, especially if your account has a positive feedback rating. Aside from the fact that many users add a handful of hyped suffixes like “Undefeated, Jordan YEEZY, Patta…” and so on, eBay has been around for decades, which means a lot of eyes will be on any sneakers you list there. Additionally, eBay’s user base is typically slightly older than Grailed, which could make your interactions more straightforward.

Some sellers also list products on Facebook groups like Yeezy Talk Worldwide or Supreme Talk, which are regulated by the group itself, while local sneaker-dedicated Facebook groups are also a smart place to check out. Transactions here are completely peer-to-peer, with all negotiations handled between the buyer and seller. Ask around and you can score an invite to these groups.

Going deeper, more product-specific groups exist also, like the Air Max 1 Sell / Buy / Trade group or the Flyknit France Club. For convenience, make sure you browse for groups dedicated to your local city as well.

Outside of that, there is also social media. You can use your Instagram feed to sell your shoes, but if you don’t have a huge following, it might be wise to use popular sneaker hashtags so anyone searching can find your listing. Twitter is another resource as well. Sites like eBay and Craigslist are also options.

Over time, shorthand terms have developed on these sites, so here’s a quick cheat sheet explaining the most common ones:

WTC – Where to Cop
WTS – Where to Sell
OBO – Or Best Offer
NWT – New With Tags
NWoT – New Without Tags

Consignment

If you’re selling offline, consignment shops are another option with their own set of advantages and drawbacks. Depending on what you’re selling, your shoes might take months or minutes to meet a prospective buyer, and when they do sell, commission is considerably higher.

Spots like Flight Club and Stadium Goods will take 20% of the sale price, although authenticity is 100% guaranteed. Round Two Hollywood is also gaining a name in the consignment business, with one location in Los Angeles and another forthcoming storefront in New York. Other smaller consignment shops can take up to 50% of the sale price.

Negotiating

It’s very rare that a sneaker transaction will be as simple as a buyer reaching out and saying they’ll buy the shoes without any further questions. Skeptical and smart buyers will request more photographs, want to know more details about the condition of the shoe, and of course, they will want to negotiate your list price.

If you believe your price to be fair, then you should stand firm to get the value you want. If you are eager to get rid of a pair of sneakers, perhaps you’ll be more willing to give yourself some room to come down on the list price. One strategy is to set a list price (for example, $250) that reflects the market value, but is still above your absolute minimum, leaving room for you to drop the price if necessary (for example, $225).

Unless you’re trying to liquidate your pair fast, the key is not to get wrapped up in tedious negotiations, otherwise you’ll end up spending a lot of time messaging back and forth.

Shipping

Once negotiations are complete and payment details have been sorted, you will need to ship your sneakers to your buyer, and it’s a common courtesy to complete this within 24 hours of payment being completed, although this time period should also be agreed upon before sale.

Be sure to go to your local postal office, FedEx or UPS to get a price quote on the shipping costs, especially if you’re planning to send them internationally. If you’ve listed your shoe at a list price plus shipping, you’ll want to make sure both sides agree on the cost.

As for the actual packing of the sneakers, it’s common courtesy to double box sneakers. You can find common guides to this on YouTube, like this one:

Now see our beginner’s guide to Kanye West x adidas sneakers.

  • Photography: Dominik Schulte / Highsnobiety.com
  • Words: Alex Wong
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