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Danny Hasbani has been selling sneakers since he was 14, but during the pandemic, the 18-year-old Little Falls, NJ, resident saw his profits skyrocket: He said he made more than $1 million in sales in 2020, about triple from the year before.
“It was a lot easier to sell shoes during the pandemic,” Hasbani told The Post. “People wanted to spend money on shoes and clothes. They went online because they didn’t feel comfortable going to the stores to spend their stimulus check.”
Hasbani, who is now a student at Montclair State, noted UPS and the United States Postal Service never shut down. Plus, the then-football player and wrestler at Passaic Valley High School had more time to devote to his side hustle. “I had more time on my hands. The gyms were closed, school was taking up less hours and sports were on hold,” he said.
The sneaker resale hustle has flourished during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond. In February 2021, research firm Piper Sandler estimated the market was worth an eye-popping $10 billion — a $4 billion increase from 2019. In April, high-end online reseller StockX was valued at $3.8 billion. And Cowan Equity Research predicts the industry will mushroom to $30 billion by 2030.
But when the pandemic hit, sending the country into a state of the unknown, kicks were the last thing on people’s minds. Then a collision of boredom, stimulus checks and, notably, a blockbuster Michael Jordan documentary sparked a boom in buying and selling limited-edition soles.
“Once people started settling in, working from home and slowly warehouses opened up, things started moving,” Yu-Ming Wu, founder of Sneaker News and chief marketing officer of Stadium Goods, told The Post.
On April 19, 2020, ESPN and Netflix began airing “The Last Dance,” a 10-episode documentary about Michael Jordan and the ’90s Chicago Bulls dynasty.
“It took everything into another world. The interest in Air Jordans went to the moon. When the documentary aired, we saw Air Jordans that hadn’t moved for months or years instantly wiped out overnight,” said Wu, 42, who also co-founded SneakerCon, a convention for sneakerheads to buy and flip sneakers.
The hottest pair? Black and red Air Jordan 14s, a k a “Last Shot 14,” which the Bulls great wore during the 1998 NBA finals against the Utah Jazz.
“Previously they were selling for like $200, but after that episode aired, it spiked to $350 or $400,” sneaker reseller Hayden Sharitt, 23, told The Post. Unfortunately, Sharitt didn’t have any in stock — but he did benefit from the the Jordan interest.
In February 2020, he had bought about 475 pairs of the Jordan 1 in pine green 2.0.
“COVID was heating up and they weren’t selling. We went into lockdown and I was just chilling with these shoes,” he said. But by the summer, the kicks had doubled in value from $140 to $280 and he had a robust inventory to offer. He sold all but two pairs.
Sharitt first started selling kicks when he was 15. After graduating high school, he planned to take a gap year. But at SneakerCon in 2017, he made a few grand in just one day and saw his future steeped in shoe boxes instead of textbooks; he decided to forgo college.
“I was working at a grocery store making minimum wage. I had been making decent money in sneakers, but it clicked that day,” he said. “My brother was valedictorian. My mom and dad were like, ‘Go to school, get a job.’ But once they saw the money coming in, it’s hard to say no. They were supportive.”
During the pandemic, the Virginia native also relocated from Queens to Tennessee: “The perks of living in New York disappeared overnight,” he said. Sharitt was initially looking for a storage place to house his inventory, but he wasn’t finding anything suitable. Instead, he rented a retail space and opened up Unique Sneaks, a sneaker resale store in Johnson City, Tennessee. He said he also bought his first home.
“Every year my business keeps growing. I would like to say most successful resellers do because they just keep reinvesting their money,” he said. “I am always patient, waiting for good deals to pop up or a shoe to be undervalued.”
Even Wu, who is not a reseller by trade, made about $40,000 casually selling sneakers because they were in demand.
“I did it as a hobby and made a pretty significant amount of money without really trying,” said the Lower East Side resident.
Wu said he recently scored a pair of red hot Travis Scott Air Jordan 6 in British khaki — which sold out in just a day — for his girlfriend. “At the moment, they are the most sought after. Travis Scott is probably the biggest collaborator right now,” he said.
Wu added that Yeezys — the collaborations between Adidas and Kanye West — are just as popular as Air Jordans. And Reebok’s Allen Iverson Legacy kicks are also in demand.
But legit flippers like Hasbani and Sharitt don’t get high on their own supplies. Hasbani said he owns about 20 different styles of Yeezy sneakers and Sharitt has about 50 pairs in his personal collection.
Hasbani said he honed his work ethic by studying his father who owned a restaurant.
“[Selling sneakers] is pretty easy to do but not a lot of kids want to work all day. Some want to hang out,” he said. “I was always buying and selling stuff in school. It doesn’t get old. There’s always another sneaker people are wanting.”
He invests his earnings in cryptocurrency, stocks and more shoes, and plans to earn his college degree as an insurance policy. “I want to make as much money as possible and invest in real estate,” Hasbani said.
Sharitt, who works 15-hour days, said flipping shoes is a dream job: “I just fell in love with shoes. Opening up a new shoe box for the first time, I feel like a kid on Christmas.”
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