words & images // Steve Jaconetta
Buying sneakers means something different for everyone. Some do it because they like them, while others may do it to make some extra cash. If you’re a collector, there are a number of reasons why you might buy a certain pair. There’s also plenty of reasons why you might get the desire to sell some pairs, as is the story with me.
My sneaker collecting saga began in the summer of 1998. At that time, I didn’t know I was starting a collection – let alone how much my life would change from that day on. It was the original navy/black Air Jordan XIII Low that started it all. They were the first Air Jordan I was able to buy and, my second pair I owned, following the first pair I got as a hand-me-down from a friend (the original 'Steel Grey' Air Jordan X).
I remember the day I purchased them like it was yesterday. After going through all the major stores and not seeing any pairs in my price range, I went into a local Sports Authority on my journey for a pair of ‘Back to School’ kicks. The XIIIs were on sale and the store was running a sale, so, I got the pair for less than $80. I was so excited that I did everything I could to keep them as fresh as possible. From cleaning them after every wear to putting the paper back inside the shoes and then the shoes back in their box. I even set them aside for the winter, keeping them boxed up until the warmer weather hit.
It was then that my life and outlook on sneakers would change forever. Almost a year after those XIIIs originally released, I pulled them out of the box and wore them out. They still looked brand new. During my outing, I was stopped by a random person who offered to buy the Jordan’s right off my feet, for more than a new pair. Now, I was young at the time, so I had no idea people re-sold sneakers, or even collected them for that matter. The man schooled me, and I quickly jumped on my 56k-speed internet (hoping to not get kicked off by the phone) and look into the world of sneaker collecting.
I soon stumbled upon sneaker dedicated forums (NT and SC/ISS) and signed up. It was at this time I started paying more attention to sneakers, saving every dollar I had, and buying every pair I could get my hands on. I would research for hours when the next pair(s) would release and quickly became a local source for info on new Air Jordan releases – ajordanxi was born, and I didn’t even know it. Fast forward a few years and I started to amass dozens of Air Jordans, along with some other shoes as well. From 1999-2011, I owned every Air Jordan that was released, retros and signature models in all colorways.
During that time period I began to look at sneakers as more of an investment rather than just another pair of kicks. People thought I was crazy, especially my family. This idea was so out-of-the-box many people looked down on me for living and breathing everything sneakers, and, even dreaming of having a career in the industry. But I didn’t let any of that get me down. For every negative reaction I received I was able to follow it up with a positive one, and then some. I’m still doing it to this day.
As I got older, I started to see the bigger picture. One day I would probably look to sell off my collection or, at least a portion of it to better myself. So I started buying multiples and, even going back and buying older pairs when the price was right. I sold some stuff here and there and by 2009, had amassed well over 1,000 pairs in my collection. At the time, I got engaged and after moving a few times, settled into a condo. My goal was obviously to own a home but as we all know, it’s not an easy task. After getting married in 2010 I began to think about my future goals, and starting a family. I was sick of moving every year or two, and didn’t want to deal with landlords anymore.
After some thought, I decided I would sell roughly 500-700 pairs of sneakers from my collection with the goal of purchasing a home. After looking through my list of what I had, I went through it, one-by-one carefully deciding if I was ready to part with them or not. After finalizing a list and finding some interest, I sold them as a lot in September of 2011 at an average price of double what the original retail price was. I didn't get the full estimated value as I sold them as a lot however, I did do very well. The timing was in my favor as well because the 're-seller boom" had not quite began. It was hard to let go of some of those shoes however, I was keeping the bigger goal in mind. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I had multiples of many pairs so, not every pair left me.
My lease was set to end at the end of February 2012. That gave me roughly three months to find a house. That’s not a lot of time. However, we got lucky as we only had to see three houses in person to know we found our home. One day after the viewing, we put an offer in, and it was accepted within a week. And then came the hard part – getting a mortgage.
If you didn’t have perfect credit or come real close, most people said it would be impossible to get approved. However, due to the decline in house value over the past few years, things changed a little. As it turned out, not having perfect credit wasn’t the issue. It was selling my collection that almost denied me of owning a home. To put it simply, the bank didn’t ‘get’ that you could sell sneakers for money, and for some reason, thought it could be some sort of fraud. After going above and beyond the requirements, and proving my sale of goods was legit, we got the call in late January of 2012 that we got the loan!
There are a few different types of loans you can choose from. I went with one that allowed me to put enough down on the house I was comfortable with, put some in savings and give me the room to make some needed updates. This included a new roof with blow-in insulation, an alarm system (gotta protect the kicks) and add a garage. The one thing lacking from my house was a garage, that was a 100% must for me, especially since I live in Connecticut and we get lots of snow in the winter. So, I did what was necessary to get estimates and was happy to be able to add an attached 2-car garage before the cold weather hit as well as have my driveway re-done and extended. My house was already worth more than what I paid and, I am completely happy with the result. Oh yeah, I did buy a 'grail' or two on the side as I could finally afford to obtain a couple sought after pairs.
In February, we closed and moved into our home. It’s been about two and a half years since I sold a part of my collection, and put the ‘collector’ part of me on the shelf. I couldn’t be happier with my decision, and would do the same thing over, in a heartbeat. It was well worth it. All the time, dedication, passion, money and years I spent on amassing my collection was gone within a 3-month period, all to provide my future family with a home to grow old in.
Today I mainly buy sneakers to wear, but occasionally I’ll double up on pairs I really like (the Air Jordan XI, for example). And I still have plenty of pairs in the collection, not to wear. While I’d like to say I’ve slowed down since buying a home and having my first child this past February, I still buy more sneakers than I should. As the number continues to climb, another decision will have to be made eventually. Will I sell off another chunk of the collection? If so, what will I part with and, what will the goal be? At this rate, a college fund for my son seems like the most viable option, but we’re nowhere near that point yet.
So for now, I’ll continue my quest and love for sneakers, as well as my passion for collecting, even if the way I do it is different than how I started. But one thing is certain; I will always hold sneakers near and dear to me, for my entire life, and I don’t see a life without them in my future anytime soon. However, I am still grateful to this day that I could turn my love and passion for kicks into a career and a home for my family to live in.
Here's a few pictures I managed to take during the process. Obviously not everything and, this is just a sample.
Steve Jaconetta is the Release Dates & Archive Editor of Sole Collector and you can follow him on Twitter here.