sneaker salesman

Sole proprietor: Student found his niche in sneaker sales

October 20, 2023

Student Experience

Inspired by his cousin's success in the streetwear market, Will Johansen, then in high school, took his first step into the world of sneaker reselling by snagging a pair of Jordan 1s on the Nike website. That modest investment quickly turned into a $40 profit, sparking his interest in the potential of this niche market.

But Johansen's business journey didn't stop there. He began investing in bot software and joining related groups on the messaging site Discord. These groups provided valuable insights and strategies for reselling sneakers, leading to impressive results in a short period. In his first month, with a $25 subscription, the young entrepreneur managed to flip 10 pairs of sneakers, demonstrating a remarkable knack for the business.

Sneaker reselling is not just about buying and selling, the Spider senior explains: "There's a market for everything. On these marketplaces, you match what other buyers want or are asking. It's a complex game of supply and demand." He diligently monitors online marketplaces like StockX, eBay, and GOAT, where he typically operates. His sales are split around 40% individual sales and 60% bulk sales, the latter usually to the owners of brick-and-mortar resale shops. 

“I primarily buy shoes when they release for their retail price, but keep in mind that many of these shoes sell out in minutes or less,” said Johansen.

While the average retail price for a pair is around $150, Johansen often manages sales of higher-priced sneakers, with some reaching up to $300. Setting the right prices requires a deep understanding of market trends and sales data. "People look at historical sales. I don't undercut too often because it lessens the market value of a shoe," he said.

A lot of his understanding of communication, sales, and bookkeeping came from the classes he took at the Robins School of Business. Though he started selling sneakers in high school, he initially lacked crucial accounting, finance, and marketing skills, but as he took relevant courses at Robins, Johansen made a substantial difference in his shoe reselling game.

Johansen's success in reselling lies not only in his ability to buy and sell but also in his disciplined approach. He emphasizes the importance of self-control when making purchases. "I've minimized losses by being cautious and rational with what I want to buy," he said.

He only buys and resells new sneakers. While there is a market for used sneakers, he finds the turnover time too long and the risk too high in that market.

Another lesson he has learned is the art of selling himself rather than just the product. In a market saturated with resellers, building strong relationships with clients and presenting oneself effectively can make all the difference. "Presenting myself to potential business partners is what gets the deal done," he said.

His advice to newcomers to the market is simple but valuable: "Begin at a scale that's manageable to you. Don't wager more than you can afford to lose on any business endeavor. And, most importantly, find something you're passionate about."