Booming sneaker market welcomed by southern Alberta resellers
The Canadian sneaker market on eBay has grown by 325 per cent in the last year.
LETHBRIDGE -- If you had to choose between a brand new luxury car or copping a pair of rare Jordan Brand sneakers, which would you pick?
That may seem like a ridiculous question, but for some Canadian sneaker heads, the allure of picking up some of the most rare kicks available is tough to resist.
"We see some of that price appreciation when they do a limited sneaker release really climb exponentially. Like a rocket ship if you will," said eBay's director of sneakers Mark Flaa.
The most expensive pair of sneakers purchased by a Canadian collector on eBay last year was a pair of Air Jordan 1 "What The" Doernbecher's that went for $66,000.
The most expensive pair of Nike Air Jordan kicks currently listed on eBay are available for more than $150,000.
Marking up prices and re-selling sneakers after snapping up limited edition releases is nothing new, but interest in the market is growing and the COVID-19 pandemic is giving handfuls of people extra time to dive into the industry.
Collectors items of all kinds have seen increased prices and demand over the course of the pandemic and according to some southern Alberta sneaker collectors and resellers, the shoe business is no exception.
"Having kind of a small base here in Lethbridge, you would think that it's slower, but there's actually a ton of people here that buy from me locally," said Lethbridge resident and long-time collector and reseller Tyler Toth.
However, when interest in any collectors market increases, so does the quantity knock-off products available online.
In response, eBay has partnered up with Sneaker Con to develop a new state-of-the-art authentication centre in Toronto.
The verification process to ensure high-end shoes are legitimate has a number of steps, including a smell test.
"It's really about the smell of the glue. There's a very distinctive set of smells for the glues that manufacturers use," said Flaa.
For sneaker heads in southern Alberta, having another trusted source to purchase and sell product is crucial.
"It can be tough in southern Alberta. All of the pairs I get are online and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been even slower logistically for some [local] companies to get pairs in," said Toth.
Now that eBay is moving towards a authenticity guarantee model, people in smaller communities north of the border are excited to be able to expand their reach.
"Fakes are so well done now that the average person probably wouldn't have a clue. I haven't bought anything on eBay yet, but I'm certainly looking into it now," said Raymond resident and sneaker collector Nation Hillyer.
More than 500,000 luxury sneakers are listed on eBay at any given time.
The most popular brands are Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Yeezy and New Balance.