Side Hustle Series: I Resell Collectible Sneakers!

(Gust post by friend Rich Uncle El, as part of our Side Hustle Series. Have one you’d like to share with us too? Give me a shout.)

In between family duties and blogging duties over at Money Watch 101 , I resell old sneakers I own for side money. I have been doing this for about 10 years now and the income varies on how much time I have to dedicate to this, and the demand of specific sneaker styles that are available.

I mostly started this because I became a sneaker addict in my early 20s. I gobbled up Jordan’s, Nikes, and other various sneaker brands, whatever tickled my fancy. In a span of about 5 years I collected about 50 + pairs of sneakers which retailed between $100-$150 bucks each. If you do the calculations, that comes out to between $5,000 and $7,500 in total shoe value!

I could have bought some apple stock back in 1999 and been better financially speaking right now, but we live and learn right. My net worth would have probably bested J. Money’s if I did that back then, lol. Anyways, I used to work at a very famous apparel retailer and I would get most of the sneakers at a substantial discount of about 30%-50% off – thus adding to my overall profitability in eventual resale transactions later.

How I Resell My Shoes

Whenever a new sneaker was released I would buy it on release day, wear it for about a few days, and then clean it and put it away in the box. Certain styles sell out in the first day so a sense of urgency is required to grab them. I then noticed that as demand increased (due to time passing and limited quantities being made) I could resell them to pretty much any new sneaker fanatic for a nice profit.

In the beginning stages of this venture I used eBay, but now I primarily use a highly reputable sneaker consignment store. Some eBay customers began to show signs of shadiness. This consignment store takes a 20% fee for all new never worn sneakers, and a 30% fee on slightly used in demand sneakers. Even with the fees associated with finding a buyer for my sneakers, I can potentially make about $50 to $300 per sneaker sale. Obviously my average profit on used sneakers is less than on new never worn ones. But the deciding factor is how in demand it is and the year it was released, with the older models getting the top prices.

In a good year I can make about $2-$3 Grand. This is not a large amount of money, but given the fact that I enjoyed wearing half of the shoes I end up selling, any profit is good profit.

retro air jordans

Past Sneaker Sales

  • Jordan Retro 1 – Black / Red released in early 2000s – Paid $50, profit from sale= $200 (Used)
  • Jordan Retro 7 – Olympic Colors Scheme released in mid 2000s – Paid $200, profit from sale= $100 (New)
  • Jordan Retro 13 – Black / Red released in mid 2000s – Paid $150, profit from sale= $275 (New)
  • Jordan Retro 11 – Black / Royal Blue released in early 2000s – Paid $100, profit from sale = $225 (Used – only worn 4 times)

These are just a few examples of the amounts you can make if you owned the right editions of Jordan Retro sneakers. If you are extremely lucky to find the first air Jordan sneaker that Michael Jordan wore back in 1985, you’d be looking at thousands and thousands of dollars if the pair’s good condition.

The sneaker collecting phenomenon is growing every day with the younger generations, and it is also gaining popularity in various international countries, like Japan, the UK, and Korea. Because of this, if you own a great sneaker you can always find a buyer for it.

How You Could Do it Too

If somebody wanted to get involved in this type of side hustle, they usually would not get a discount like I did because premium sneakers like these are no longer discounted by coupons, and many retail companies are limiting employees from buying them due to the high demand for the products.

What you can do, however, is:

  1. Pay full retail for the sneaker
  2. Get it on release day to avoid a sellout situation
  3. Gauge demand in the first week and see if it’s worth it to sell
  4. If you are not getting the profit you desire, hold them for a period of time (the asking price tends to go up with certain styles)
  5. Pray you can get a profit later with the right buyer

As of right now my collection has dwindled to about 20-25 pairs, but I am starting to see demand pick up again within the economy and I will be hitting the stores in the near future to find the most in demand styles that I can resell. The oldest pair I own is about 8 years old now, and it could probably fetch me a profit of about $350 dollars.

Lately my style of shoes has transitioned into a more mature less flashy footwear, so I am taking turns selling out my inventory and buying more casual less expensive sneakers for me to wear.

Are you a sneaker fanatic yourself? How many pairs do you own?

You can find Rich Uncle El at, where he blogs about simple easy money topics with an added twist of his own personal financial battles and achievements. He’d love for you to follow him over on Twitter @MoneyWatch101, or if you’d like, on Facebook:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Did any of you see the World’s largest Nike collection/museum (AKA ShoeZeum) try to get pawned on Pawn Stars the other week? It was fullllll of sneakers JUST like these mentioned above, and the seller/owner wanted a cool million for it all. It didn’t happen ;) As always, Rick (the Pawn Star guy) tried lowballing and the deal never got made… Very cool stuff though for sure. I remember DYING for a pair of Jordans back in my middle school days! Instead I had to settle for some knock off Reebok Pumps my dad brought back from Korea, haha… good times, good times.

{Top photo by chrishimself / Bottom photo from Uncle El’s collection}

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  1. Brian February 28, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    Never been a sneakerphile and that was probably because I always wore cheap shoes. I am amazed at how much people loves these things, but hey I love coins and there are people who probably don’t understand that either.

    Also J$ you had a typo it is “Rick” not “Rich” from pawn stars.

    1. J. Money February 28, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      haha… “sneakerphile” – I like that. And typo fixed – thx!

  2. Lance @ Money Life and More February 28, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    That is pretty sweet that you can sell them later. It is a bit too risky for me, but if I enjoyed shoes it would definitely be looking into. I think with how much room it takes to store them you really have to enjoy the sneakers to be able to do this. Very cool that you found a way to make money collecting something you love!

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 8:27 AM

      Yup Lance nice sneakers hold a special place in my heart and the profit afterwards makes it that much sweeter.

  3. My Financial Independence Journey February 28, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    I never even realized that there were such a thing as collectable sneakers. I always wore cheap sneakers and only started to wear more expensive sneakers when I was an adult and started running. The cheap ones just wore out too quickly.

    I guess it just goes to show that people will collect anything.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      Yup like the TV show I saw once of a guy who collected dead bugs, but guess what they dont make you a profit. LOL> Thanks for the comment.

  4. Michelle February 28, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    When I saw this post, I thought of the episode of Pawn Stars just like you! Crazy how many shoes were in there and the $1 million that he wanted. Shoes are so expensive!

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      Now I have to google the episode to see it, I actually saw the collection before on another chanel, but not Pawnstars.

  5. John S @ Frugal Rules February 28, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    I used to love sneakers and am kicking myself now for letting so many of them go. I lived in Chicago when Jordan was there, so getting the newest edition was always a big thing for many kids. That’s awesome you’ve been able to make a nice little side income off of them.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      Yeah I always thought damn these shoes are expensive, how can I use them and still make money on the back end. By keeping them clean, in the box, and never using them to play sports. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Tushar @ Everything Finance February 28, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Wow, that’s a lot of money in sneakers! What a fun side hustle . I’m always surprised as to how expensive a pair of sneakers can be, but they are like collectibles.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 9:06 AM

      Yes when I first started the most expensive pair went for $150, now they are going for $200-250 retail. Inflation is alive and well.

  7. Financial Black Sheep February 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Sounds like a cool side job. Do you ever buy shoes you just can’t sell for anything? I have two pairs of sneakers and wear both for running, so not really a sneaker fan. I do, however, have a large collection of dress and other shoes. :)

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      I have about 1 or 2 pairs that I can’t resell because I like to use them from time to time.They are my favorite color and Retro # edition.

  8. Nikki February 28, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I did this with ladies shoes. I saw a demand on EBay for specific brands, I went to TJ Maxx and Marshall’s and bought a couple different sizes and posted them online. The profit margin was low, but the plus side is that if they hadn’t sold in a certain timeframe, I could take them back to the store for my refund.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Yeah the retail store time frame is a downside, but if you know that a a great shoe will go up in value then you will eventually get a great pay day when you resell in a year or two.

    2. J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      HAH! That’s awesome… I’ve never even thought of buying at stores and then reselling online – great idea! Only if you can return ’em, of course.

  9. Jose February 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    There’s a lot of things you can get a small side income on. I recently found out that you can sell Olympic weight for 50 cents a pound. They go for 60-76 cents a pound at a “Used Sporting Goods Store” and about $1.00 a pound new. If your lucky you can pick them up at yard sales for a lot less than that. I found this out when I sold a set I had in the garage on Craigslist. (which I had picked up at a yard sale). I actually got more for the weights and the bench then what I paid for them a year ago! I paid $125 for the bench and weights and got $100 for the weights alone and $75 for the bench. Not a huge profit but better than a loss!

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Sounds great, weights can be tricky because they are heavy and expensive to ship.

      1. J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        Nice!! Never heard of that before.

  10. K February 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    My hubby does this. I thought he was nuts when he first thought of the idea and was wasting his money. Especially when he bought a pair of sneakers for $650. As you can imagine, I flipped out. But he proved me wrong when he sold the shoes a year later for $1400. Pretty nice profit there. But most of the time, he usually makes less then $50 profit on the shoes.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      That was a great buy on his end. The kanye west nike sneaker is going for 3 grand. Google it.

      1. J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:24 PM


  11. Edward Antrobus February 28, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    I still have my Chuck Taylor All-Stars from high school, but aside from that, I have a pair of running shoes, a pair of dress shoes, sandals, and 2 pairs of boots.

    Of course, with my “Flintsone feet,” popular shoe brands never really fit me.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Edward Chuck taylors are cool, converse is owned by nike now so look for some sharing of styles soon. I am a big fan of converse.

      1. Melinda Gonzalez February 28, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        what??? Nike owns converse? That just seems so wrong.

  12. Nick @ February 28, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    I really enjoyed reading about your side-hustle, it was a great idea. I did the same thing with classic video games.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Thanks now you can write a video game post for J$.

      1. J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        YES! That would be a great post, my friend!

  13. Melinda Gonzalez February 28, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Cool idea. I could never do it because in my hood, if you wait in line to get them before they sell out, you are likely to get shot. Not guaranteed, but likely.

    1. RichUncle EL February 28, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      YEs this is a problem with certain urban communities, the fiens want them so bad they are willing to go to jail for it. Thus making the sneakers go up in value. HA. Take a body guard, J$ and I are willing to accept some offers.

      1. J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:31 PM

        I can look pretty scary with my mohawk :)

  14. Evan February 28, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    To be fair…if you put the same amount of money into the broad market (not just apple) in 1999 you would probably be wayyyyy ahead lol

    1. Rich Uncle EL February 28, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      Evan give me a number of what that number would look like so I can be depressed for a day. LOL.

  15. stephanie February 28, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    I never would have thought sneakers would lead you to a side-gig. That’s just cool.

  16. Cassi February 28, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    I love my Nike running shoes, but I didn’t realize that you could actually invest and sell shoes! (Not my running shoes though. They are my babies) That is really cool! Interesting article.

  17. Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey March 1, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    I have never been a sneaker fanatic but my cousin is! I was amazed with the numbers on your profit. I will suggest to my cousin that he resell his 50+ collection of Jordans and Nikes, instead of keeping them in his closet, occupy too much closet space, and collect too much dust. Resell them to have space… and of course, money! Thanks for the idea.

  18. RichUncle EL March 1, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    @stephanie-Yup its cool right.
    @Cassi-Keep your babies, I still have a pair of running shocks I cant let go of.
    @Cherleen-It’s a really long process mentally before a collector can sell personal kicks, I doubt he will do it because most sneakers heads can’t let go. Unless they value money like I do.,

  19. J. Money March 1, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Thanks for the post and responding to comments my man – keep on hustlin’ those kicks!

  20. Mario March 11, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Well this is interesting. For me, the ultimate trifecta would be to have a side hustle that accomplishes all of these:

    (1) Makes money
    (2) Is something I enjoy doing
    (3) Decorates my home

    This might mean I should collect and sell spoons, or tapestries, or vintage posters… still working on it…

  21. J. Money March 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Haha you threw me a loop on that last one :) Def. do-able though!

  22. Savvy Engineer May 5, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    This is such a great idea.

    Have you expanded your reselling to the ever-popular Nike Foamposites?

  23. Wayne Jones June 10, 2013 at 2:49 AM

    Not a bad thing at all. For someone who already loves sneakers, its a great bonus. When I was in high school and was buying all the Jordan’s for $150, I never thought I’d get my money back but Id be damned if I didn’t keep them. They cost too much not to keep. Of course I was pleasantly surprised to find out just what they are now worth. Got the Last Shots, Flu games, Flints, all Original releases. Also got the 2001 Retro 11s Red/White and Blue/White and the first retro of the Bred IVs. Never would of imagined I’d make a hefty profit on my shoes. Gotta love just how much collectors go nuts over OG releases.

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Nice!!! I wonder if you could bundle them all up into a nice “estate” and auction them off for a nice penny?? Pretty hot $hit right there either way. Way to go.

  24. meister August 9, 2015 at 8:31 AM

    wich site is the best to see the releases and from like jordans that only are produced a couple of thousand times so i can buy them and sell them for more