As the resale market continues to gain customers, a new e-commerce site is helping sneakers lovers find a bargain.
SneakerCycle.com, which launched last month, stocks gently used and refurbished performance and lifestyle kicks for men, women and children. It has more than 33,000 pairs in its inventory from dozens of brands, including sneaker giants Nike, Adidas, Puma, New Balance and others.
But this isn’t your typical sneaker resale platform, which aims to sell coveted shoes at above-market prices. On SneakerCycle, nearly all the shoes are less than $100, and the average sales price is $45.
“We offer a more of a thrifted value play for the community,” said co-founder Steven Salstein. “Our site gives an opportunity for people who may not be able to afford a $150, $180 shoe and lets them keep coming back and getting great value, great execution on that product.”
Salstein is certainly no stranger to the shoe industry. He is the fourth-generation working with his family’s Miami-based liquidation business, partnering with retailers and brands to manage their returns and distressed inventory. Six years ago, he and his childhood friend, Eric Mesa, created GotSneakers, a for-profit crowdsourcing platform that collects used athletic shoes from individuals and organizations.
Its sourcing approach is similar to ThredUp, though GotSneakers pays for items at a flat rate rather than on consignment. “People sign up to recycle their athletic footwear. We’ll send them collection bags, they throw them in the bags, hand them over to FedEx and then we receive that product,” explained Salstein. “At our warehouse, we sort every pair and then based on the quality and quantity of their product, we issue them monthly compensation checks for their collection.”
The company currently stores its merchandise in 40,000-square-feet of warehouse space in Miami, and its team includes 10 cleaning and restoration specialists, as well as sorters, photographers, fulfillment specialists and general managers.
In addition to individual contributors, GotSneakers partners with more than 400 retailers, in some cases placing collection boxes in their stores (the retailers are compensated), and it provides fundraising opportunities for local civic organizations, nonprofits and corporations.
Previously, GotSneakers was selling its collected inventory in overseas markets, but Salstein said that when the export markets shut down in 2020 because of the pandemic, the company began listing items for sale on eBay under the SneakerCycle banner. “We have no experience in retail, but we started messing around taking pictures of the better product and it kind of took off from there,” he recalled. “Now we have the No. 1 eBay store for pre-owned men’s and women’s athletic footwear under the $80 price tag.”
After seeing success on that platform, the company decided this year to venture out on its own by launching the SneakerCycle e-comm site. Mesa said the move was intended to “develop the SneakerCycle brand further and create more awareness, take control of and improve the customer shopping experience, capture first-party customer data and build a database of customers, and drive more profits to our bottom line by avoiding eBay selling and promotional fees.”
However, the partners still maintain a presence on eBay, and in fact, the SneakerCycle.com inventory is directly linked with its eBay store through a third-party software.
“EBay remains a crucial component of our e-commerce business, but we are excited about the opportunity to develop the SneakerCycle brand and build a loyal customer base that cares about the environmental and economic benefits of shopping secondhand,” said Mesa.
Beyond its value proposition, the founders noted that SneakerCycle can appeal to eco-friendly shoppers who want to help keep products out of landfills.
But the partners are quick to point out that they aren’t trying to greenwash their business. “We don’t really know yet what we’re doing from an impact standpoint,” admitted Mesa. “That’s why, about a year ago, we hired a sustainability consultant who’s helped us analyze our business. We used the Allbirds Carbon Footprint calculator as our guiding light, and what we learned is we’re actually net negative from a carbon footprint standpoint. But there’s still more to quantify.”
GotSneakers has started the process to be certified as a B Corp, and Salstein said it aims to work with others in the industry to address circularity and find new methods to recycle or dispose of distressed shoes and materials in ways that aid the environment.
“I think we offer a really great solution to the budget-friendly community and the environmental eco-friendly community that wants to buy, reuse or pre-loved shoes,” Salstein said.