America is in a state of chaos due to the unjust killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Protests have taken place in every state in the country, bringing attention to issues that African-Americans face and inspiring a concerted effort to undo the effects of systemic racism. With the protests, riots have also taken place, and there has been looting that’s been divisive. Some see it as unacceptable behavior that’s not only taking away from the change going on, but is being perpetrated by opportunists who have no interest in the protests. Others see it as an outlet for anger that will help spark change. Sneaker stores have been a popular target for looting.
Notable lootings have happened at Flight Club in Los Angeles; RIF in San Francisco, which permanently closed its location; StockX’s dropoff space in New York City; Adidas in New York City; and shops such as Familia in Minneapolis, Sneaker Politics in Dallas, Round Two in Los Angeles and Richmond, Virginia, A Ma Maniere in Atlanta and Washington, D.C, and Sole Classics in Columbus, Ohio. There have been videos of Nike Mags, which go for as much as $35,000 on the secondary market, being looted. People have alluded to a stolen Friends-and-Family Travis Scott x Air Jordan IV that sold on StockX for $2,000, way under its resale value, which can be as high as $13,000.
It’s a crime to be in possession of stolen goods. That applies to secondary-market stores that knowingly deal in stolen product. I’m sure a lot of us have seen Pawn Stars, where they ask people if the goods are stolen. So what are platforms that help sell sneakers doing to combat the sales of stolen sneakers in light of the increased volume possibly circulating?
Sneaker reselling platform GOAT, which purchased Flight Club in 2018, gave a statement saying, “One of our top priorities is to ensure there is trust and safety in the sneaker industry. Over the years, we have worked tirelessly to prevent fraudulent activity and we intend to continue our robust practices with increased vigilance, especially in light of recent events and concerns around stolen products. We will not allow for these stolen products to be sold on our platforms and all suspected products will be removed.”
Flight Club, whose Los Angeles store was the target of a looting this past weekend, put out a statement saying, “In light of recent events, we can confirm we have removed inventory from our retail stores.” There is a video circulating online that showed would-be looters getting arrested at the company’s New York location.
The looting of Flight Club was significant not just because of the store’s history and stock, but also because the company takes no responsibility for what happens to sneakers once they’re consigned to the store. If someone steals your $10,000 Air Jordans, you’re out $10,000.
A StockX spokesperson gave a statement that addressed their dropoff location being looted, the potential of stolen items being sold on their platform, and their support of the ongoing protests. Saying, “On Sunday evening, our Drop-Off location at 237 Lafayette Street in SoHo was broken into amidst the looting in the surrounding area. Thankfully, no StockX employees were harmed, as the retail location remains closed pursuant to Governor Cuomo’s executive order. Our fraud team is investigating the situation and will take any available measures to prevent the sale of stolen goods on our platform. While we do not condone the damage, we understand the frustration that led to this point. StockX supports peaceful protest and we stand with the many people around the country who are using their voices to speak out and demand change.”
Rare and expensive shoes, which potentially could have been from the looting, have popped up on the app Offer Up. A pair of Nike Mags were posted on the app in the past few days, as well as a single shoe of the Boys Don’t Cry x Nike SB Dunk Low collaboration. The caption read, “I need the other pair, Lmk if u have the other pair. Only one shoe.” There was also a fake pair of “Black/Solar Red” Nike Air Yeezy 2s posted on the app, which claimed to be from the looting. Platforms such as this are not a middleman service, so it’s much easier for people to unload sneakers. The same can be said for marketplaces such as Facebook.
Both Stadium Goods and eBay were contacted for this story but didn’t respond.
Virgil Abloh, who drew criticism for posting a $50 donation earlier this week (which he said was matching a friend’s donation before saying he’s donated over $20,000), said in an Instagram post about looting, “If looting eases pain and furthers the overall mission, it is in good standing with me.”
Abloh initially received backlash for venting frustration about Sean Wotherspoon’s Round Two store getting looted.
There’s no simple answer to the looting. Of course someone getting their business destroyed isn’t a good thing, and it’s something no one would promote. But as Bobby Hundreds, whose store was at the center of the melee in Los Angeles this past weekend, put it on Twitter, “Eh, it'll be fine. it's just a store. Black Lives are precious, however. Protect Black Lives.”