Wee tykes of just 13, 14, and 15 years of age are making mad $$$ from the comfort of their own homes. Okay, maybe not millions. But more than pocket money. Certain limited-edition sneakers — like concert tickets and Birkin bags — fetch a significantly higher price on the open market than they do at retail.
This is due to a combination of scarcity and the rabidity of the sneakerhead fan-base. Scarcity is created by the brands that market these kicks, who release sometimes as few as a couple hundred pairs of a new shoe nationwide. (That and poor crowd control will get you a riot at the Foot Locker.) Teenage boys, it turns out, not only have many hours of free time to devote to learning the intricacies of sneaker culture, they like to sell and trade their finds for sometimes eye-popping profits either online or at giant, private swap meets. New York magazine attended one such meet, organized entirely by a 15-year-old in a rented hotel ballroom, and talked to some of the 800 attendees — boys who were making bank.
"I'm selling the most popular shoe in the game," boasts Brant Steinberg, who is not much over five feet tall but already wears an adult shoe size. With acid-green flames and a glow-in-the-dark sole, the Paranormans would look great if you wanted to play basketball during a nuclear apocalypse. "Yo!" he called to a friend. "I'm going to be featured in a magazine!"
It's easy to laugh at Steinberg's swagger until you find out the market price of a pair of Paranorman Foamposites is currently more than $1,500. Last year, a space-themed version of the shoe, dubbed the "Galaxy" Foamposite, fetched bids of over $2500 on eBay in the days after it sold out in retail stores, where it was originally priced at $220.
On this damp Sunday, Steinberg was far from the only kid hawking shoes at prices that would take some saving up. Fueled by testosterone and a few lone moms handing out bagels and Capri Suns, attendees stormed a Best Western ballroom, dragging around trashbags full of shoes as dubstep blared from a D.J. booth. Wallets stuffed with fat rolls of $20 bills were taken out; shoes were swapped. It was Rick Ross–style hustling, only the PG-13 version.
One day soon, we'll all be working for these kids.