Buying a pair of new rare sneakers is harder than reselling them on StockX. To buy new, the Yeezy or Jordan gods have to smile upon you, giving you that winning raffle ticket at a local store or letting you beat the bots online. To resell, all you have to do is go to the StockX website and set a price. You don't take photos or haggle with potential buyers. Instead, you look at what price the shoes are selling for and list your pair at whatever amount you think someone will pay for them. Like a stock exchange, buyer and seller identities are kept from one another. StockX acts as a middleman, only releasing payment once it verifies that goods are authentic. It's this simplicity that has helped the company earn so many loyal users.
StockX was founded in 2015 after Quicken Loans founder and CEO Dan Gilbert bought Campless -- an online repository for sneaker sales data -- from Josh Luber. As part of the purchase, Luber moved from his native Philadelphia to the Detroit metro area, taking up the mantle of StockX CEO and working from Gilbert's One Campus Martius building downtown. In a little under three years, the company has become the go-to source for buying rare high-end shoes and streetwear.
Last October, after countless requests from customers, the website offered resellers and industry insiders a peek behind the curtain at its first ever StockX Day in Detroit. It gave some 200 people a chance to see the internet made real, talk to employees, see how the authentication process works and convene in real life. It brought people like Kevin Tran, who first heard of StockX from a YouTube pre-roll ad. He's been using the site for about a year now, and between eBay and StockX, he can supplement his monthly income as a librarian by $1,500 on average. He thinks the selling fees are a little high but likes that StockX makes the process facile -- especially now that he can resell Supreme streetwear there.
The day of a drop, eBay will be flooded with listings selling a $50 T-shirt for $80 to $100. Simply as a matter of course, people are going to make a purchase from someone who has 14,000 reviews versus someone who has zero. "That's where StockX comes in and makes it that much easier for people to sell, whether you're the new guy or you're the 10-year vet of reselling," Tran said.
For others, StockX's trademark feature is that it guarantees authenticity.
"When it comes to selling a pair of Yeezys, people just have to trust the website," Jeff Caruana, a project manager at a Chicago-based tech company, told me. He uses StockX exclusively because of how easy it is, and as of last fall, he'd bought and sold 10 pair of shoes on the site. It can take years of selling on eBay to build a good reputation, especially when you're trying to sell sneakers that can cost as much as a month's rent. "The value that StockX adds is at the end of the day I know I'm buying legit shoes. I'm not necessarily sure StockX would have a business if it wasn't for all the fakes out there. People would just go to eBay or wherever else."
Veteran reseller Fred Preston agreed. "I can have all the great feedback in the world, but if I sell one pair of fake sneakers ... I'm going to be ruined, because now I'm known for selling fake merchandise," he said. After a few years of selling shoes online in his free time, Preston dropped out of college his junior year to make it his career.
Twelve years later, his Florida-based Nonfiction Store makes high six figures selling shoes and clothing online. He estimated that 15 percent of his business comes from selling on StockX. Around half still comes from eBay, with reselling platforms Goat and Kixify rounding it out. All told, he moves between 300 and 350 pairs of shoes per month. He likes StockX because he doesn't have to take pictures of everything he sells or write an item description. "It just makes everything simple."