BUSINESS
10/26/2018 14:54 EDT | Updated 10/26/2018 15:46 EDT

Rare Sneakers A Bigger Goldmine Than Actual Gold: Study

Forget gold; buy shoes instead.

A detailed view of the Nike Air Yeezy 2 'Red October' sneaker on Feb. 27, 2014 in New York City. Originally sold for US$250, its current resale value is about $5655.
Mike Lawrie via Getty Images
A detailed view of the Nike Air Yeezy 2 'Red October' sneaker on Feb. 27, 2014 in New York City. Originally sold for US$250, its current resale value is about $5655.

The sneakerheads are right: their shoe collections can be a great investment.

A study from UK coupon code site MyVoucherCodes, rounded up the world's 50 most valuable pairs of sneakers, each with a higher return on investment than gold. A spokesperson for MyVoucherCodes told HuffPost Canada that, like anything, sneaker resales are about knowing when to buy and when to sell.

"If you look back to some of them, we're going back to the early 2000s and it's supply and demand," James Brockbank said.

Topping the list was the low-top Nike Dunk SB, which initially sold in 2004 for US$200.

Its value today? A whopping $8,750, representing a 4,275 per cent return on investment.

Thousands-of-per cent return on investment

Brockbank said collaborations also tend to drive prices higher.

"The Pharrell and MERB collaboration with Adidas and the Eminem collaboration with the Air Jordans, collaborations with individuals — they are something that pushes the price up," he said.

Indeed, the Jordan 2 Retro Eminem shoes have a 2,993 per cent return on investment, with an initial selling price of $110 in 2008, and a current resale value of $3,402.

Tony Cheng, an associate product manager at a tech start-up in Kitchener, Ont., told HuffPost Canada his sneaker obsession started during his university days with a challenge from a friend, who didn't believe he could beat out the online crowds and snag a pair of Yeezy 350 V2s.

He bought the shoes for CA$340 — a price that seemed ridiculous to him at the time — and sold them to a buyer from a Facebook group for $950 cash once he had the shoes in hand. The total turnaround time? Three weeks.

By the time shoes came, I think it was a week later, they were already sold before they arrived.Tony Cheng

Cheng said he did this a few times while in university to make some extra spending money and pay off his student loans. His fastest resale was on another pair of Yeezys, which sold in a mere 30 minutes.

"I bought them for $340 after taxes, and I posted the screenshot that my order got confirmed, that shipping's on its way and I got an offer for $1,500 in 30 minutes," he said.

"By the time shoes came, I think it was a week later, they were already sold before they arrived."

Now that he's employed full-time, Cheng said he doesn't flip sneakers for profit much these days, and his sneaker collection — which numbers between 15 and 20 pairs — is more of a hobby.

"I want to focus primarily on my career rather than spending all this time selling shoes, because it does take significant time and effort for me to figure out when things are coming out, be there when they're coming out, be there on all these different sites trying to buy a single pair."

Bernard Weil via Getty Images
Shoppers stand in line specifically to get a pair of 'Jordan 12' running shoes for $200 per pair at Foot Locker in Toronto's Eaton Centre during Boxing Day, 2013.

Fellow sneakerhead Allan Pulga, a marketing professional in Regina, has been collecting shoes for almost 20 years.

Pulga's collection numbers around 80 pairs, and he said he doesn't plan on reselling any. But he does treat them like an investment, cleaning them often and spraying them with a shoe protector as soon as they're out of the box.

He said the internet has been a "blessing and a curse" for sneakerheads, who have access to a wealth of information people didn't have in the early 2000s.

"Back in the day, you just kind of had to know, or you'd talk to somebody at Foot Locker and they told you when something was going to drop, but it wasn't on social media, it wasn't on websites telling you, 'hey, everyone go to Foot Locker and get these Jordans,'" he said.

"Something drops, and it's gone.

"And the demand is outrageously high, and as a result of that, that demand makes the (return on investment) extremely high too."

Not all that glitters is gold

In any case, gold as an investment doesn't have a lot of lustre for everyone. In May, Warren Buffett, a longtime advocate of buying stocks, recently used an example of someone investing $10,000 in the Second World War era to demonstrate why buying stocks would always be more profitable than buying gold over the long term.

"..it didn't produce anything. It was never going to produce anything," he said.

"And what would you have today? You would have 300 ounces of gold just like you had in March of 1942, and it would be worth approximately $400,000."

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