Have you ever resold sneakers? 

It’s a question Matt Welty uses to grill Full Size Run guests on a weekly basis, and one that almost every sneaker collector would say yes to. And even if you’ve never resold sneakers, you’ve probably bought sneakers from a reseller.  

For better or worse, reselling has evolved and defined what sneaker culture has been in the past 10 years. While some purists may look down on buying and flipping shoes for profit, there’s no denying that it’s opened up the sneaker world to the masses and created a new generation of entrepreneurs.

But to see how we got here, it’s necessary to consider what reselling sneakers was before Sotheby’s was auctioning off rare Nikes for half a million dollars or Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma was signing endorsement deals with reselling platform GOAT

Reselling became more of a focus in sneakers with the advent of eBay, in the late ‘90s the go-to platform for sneakerheads to sell shoes or find any type of nostalgic artifact. There were also forums like ISS, which would eventually become Sole Collector, and NikeTalk that acted as marketplaces and communities for sneaker transactions. 

“It was a lot of having to dig. There was a lot of discovery, compared to now,” says Yu-Ming Wu, founder of Sneaker News and Sneaker Con, of finding sneakers in the early ’00s. “I don’t even know how people got money across back in those days before PayPal. It wasn’t until that when sneaker reselling really expanded.”

Enter Flight Club, which opened its doors in 2005. It was the first physical and online location for resellers and collectors alike to buy and sell authentic sneakers. As Flight Club grew, so did blogs covering sneakers, which boosted interest in sneakers everywhere. 

“Flight Club pioneered sneaker consignment, and has remained one of the few places in the world where you can experience some of the rarest sneakers up close in real life,” says Matt Cohen, VP of business development and strategy with GOAT Group, which merged with Flight Club last year. “It is a cultural institution for the sneaker community.”

Connecting resellers and buyers through consignment may not be anything new, but the past decade has seen Flight Club and Stadium Goods grow beyond just the resale of shoes and gear. Foot Locker invested $100 million into GOAT this past February.

“There was typically a lot of friction around selling in traditional consignment shops and online platforms,” says Cohen. “As platforms like GOAT become global channels, resellers now have a larger global audience to sell their product to, and consumers can easily access the database of sneakers right at their fingertips.”