Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Add paying $2K for a pair of Kanye kicks to the list of things I just don’t get

Although I find something vaguely disreputable about scalping in practice – the calculating, shifty-eyed meanness of the scalpers I’ve encountered (and, on a couple of occasions, actually bought tickets from) – in theory, I’m okay with it. (As long as taxes get paid and no one gets knifed in a dark alley.)

So, it’s okay to scalp tickets at Fenway Park – and to me, it certainly is. Why I even get to laugh up my sleeve at scalpers (both the in person “Need Tickets/Got Tickets” guys, and the more “legit” online version at Ace, Higs and StubHub) when they get stuck with tickets that ain’t no one wants. As happens when the Red Sox turn in a cellar-dweller season. Preposterously, they still mostly fill the stands, but no one has to pay a premium to sit in a squinchy seat in America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. Risk-reward in action!

But I don’t like the fact that sports teams and concert promoters seem to collude with the scalping organization. In return for getting all their tickets off their hands, they cede any excess profits to the middle man. In the process, of course, they squeeze out the little man…

But I digress.

What we’re talking about here is not ticket scalping. It’s product scalping.

Nothing new, of course.

Even in the pre-Internet days, back in the early 1980’s, there were black markets for Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, and the prices spiked.

Finite supply, meet infinite demand.

I get it, I get it. After all, I didn’t spend nearly 40 years in the company of an economist without having some of it rub off on me.

What I don’t get – on the sports event, concert, or object of desire fronts – is when the prices for scarce things get so far out of whack with the face value on the ticket, or what’s printed on the price tag.

I get a bit over. You really want it, have at it. 

So if someone is willing to pay a high-school kid $240 for a pair of Air Jordans that retail for $160, that I kind of get.Maybe what you want isn’t available online, only in the store. (Or online in the secondary, scalper market.) Maybe you don’t have time to get downtown and stand in line. A 50% markup? Okay.

Still, I wouldn’t want to stake my college application on having been a sneaker scalper.

Maybe in the Age of Trump, this looks like brilliant entrepreneurship, but I can’t get past the sleaze factor.

I don’t think next Elon Musk. I think next King Rat (or some other POW-camp conniver, a staple of the war movies of my youth).

Maybe because scalping shows initiative, but not creativity. Minor risk taking, but little effort. How to make a lot for a little.

Guess I’m just too much of an old-school, sweat of the brow (or fever pitch of the imagination) type.

But there are, apparently, plenty of high school kids socking away big bucks by reselling popular sneakers. (Sneaker resale, by the way, is big business: over $1B annually.)

In a market that mystifies non-sneakerheads — how can Kayne West’s “Yeezy” sneakers routinely sell for more than $1,000 on the secondary market? — some youths are earning hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars reselling mainly unworn shoes to friends, friends of friends, and thanks to eBay and the rest of the Internet, strangers across town and across the world. …The young entrepreneurs follow sneaker blogs and Twitter feeds and Facebook pages and YouTube channels, absorbing information about release dates and potential resale value. They try to befriend sneaker-store employees hoping to have exclusive releases put aside for them. (Source: Boston Globe)

Shouldn’t these kids be reading Wuthering Heights? Memorizing the periodic table? Lifeguarding? Mowing lawns? (Why when I was a kid…)

Not when there’s big bucks to be made as a sneaker magnate.

It must be hard to resist the lure. One kid featured in the article bought a pair of Kanye West Yeezy 750 Boosts for $350, and unloaded them a week later on eBay for $2,200. This fellow estimates that he’s netted $25K over the past three years. That’s almost a semester at a private college! Hope he’s mentioning it on his financial aid forms. He does intend to make it the anchor piece of his college essay.

I suspect it will be better received at a business school than at a Great Books college. One school’s head for business is another school’s unsavory dorm hustler.

What’s actually most stunning, of course, is just how much people are willing to pay for kicks, some of which keep getting harder to find.
Take these Yeezys. Definitely looks like some kid – that’s a twin bed - is selling them out of his bedroom in Queens. (Which, quaintly, has a landline in it.) You can avail yourself a pair, of order up 10 pairs for $20K, and do a turnaround jumper and see if you can get more than $2K a pair for them.

What would possess someone to pay $2K for a pair of sneakers!

Guess it could be worse. Elsewhere
on eBay, someone’s willing to part with a pair of vintage – and used - Air Jordans for $26K.

Oh, what a world we live in.

As for all those scalping high school kids: Everyone can’t be an inventor, an innovator, a do-gooder, a creator. Someone’s got to be the salesperson of tomorrow…

Have I got a deal for you…

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