When you first move to Los Angeles, one of the oddest sights is the long lines of people patiently waiting to enter a handful of micro-shops on Fairfax Avenue, where four doors down from the store Supreme, you could eat at Cantor’s Deli.
On Friday, a line stretched an unimaginable length – past the Rosewood intersection, where it passed across the street, young men leaning against the chain-link fences of the football stadium in the Walt Whitman High School. If you squint, it almost looked like the line stretched all the way to Melrose, a third of a mile away.
Every person online was hoping to get into eBay’s three-day sneaker pop-up, Wear ‘Em Out. Yes, the “We Sell Your Stuff on eBay” store seen in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is now a reality, with the notable difference that eBay is the one selling, off-platform.
The location’s proximity to Supreme doesn’t seem like a coincidence; the store’s real estate, reduced space, and limited selection cultivated an air of exclusivity and rarity. This can boost the hype, but also encourages enterprising shoppers with deep pockets to take advantage of the small offer – grabbing as much stock as possible to resell at a later date.
Fighting this phenomenon while trying to fuel the “hype” in hypebeast was the challenge; a “one pair per customer” rule may be enough to keep some potential buyers from approaching the spot, while not exactly the most difficult system to play. But Wear ‘Em Out had found a different kind of incentive system, offering deep discounts to anyone willing to put the shoes on their feet and walk them home. The catch was that they first had to navigate a short obstacle course of gravel, fake grass and sooty rock; Say goodbye to the coveted NIB (New In Box) tag that takes shoes from their retail price to thousands of dollars or more on secondary selling platforms like Grailed, GOAT, StockX and eBay itself.
“People treat sneakers like investments,” according to Garry Thaniel, Managing Director of eBay Sneakers. “We love our sales people, but we wanted to embrace the idea that not everything has to be a business decision. Sometimes it’s just about enjoying it.
Thaniel wore a fresh pair of Nike Air Force Ones, a notoriously ruthless blinding white sneaker for scuffs. That’s kind of the point; Growing up in Baltimore, Thaniel recalls, in April or May, everyone would show up with pristine sneakers to see them worn out at the end of the summer. The following spring would bring new shoes and the cycle would begin again.
Here’s a taste of what was in stock on Friday:
- The New Balance 2002R “Protection Pack” in Sea Salt ($385)
- A Nike x Travis Scott Air Max 270 “Cactus Trails” Collab ($400)
- 2 different versions of the Yeezy Boosts: a 700 Bright Blue ($355) and the 350 V2 Dazzling Blue ($415).
- 4 different Air Jordans: Retro 1″ ‘Cool Grey’ 2021, ($335); Retro 6″ UNC White” ($325); 1 Retro High “OG Patent Bred” ($330); 1 Retro High 85 “Georgetown” ($425);
- The Union x Nike Dunk Low “Passport Pack – Pistachio” ($650).
Each pair would cost $100 less to wear out the door.
Check out eBay’s pop-up sneaker shop
While he couldn’t give us more details about the following days’ selection, Thaniel told dot.LA that each collection was composed by Offset, he of popular hip-hop group Migos.
And what did Thaniel think of moving eBay’s sneaker game to a permanent brick-and-mortar location, a new Amazon Style-style store across town in Glendale?
That would be a great idea, Thaniel mused. “We should talk about it internally. He mentioned that eBay’s policy of working with sellers led to this prime real estate, as they technically operated in a portioned section of SoleStage’s already tiny interior.
As I left the store, a scroll on my phone revealed an interesting development: Gucci, the famous Italian loafer brand, had just opened its first store in the Metaverse.
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