Unless your principal residence has been the underside of a boulder for the last decade, you’re likely aware that sneaker reselling today is big business. The art of flipping shoes has turned into a shockingly lucrative industry, one forecast by Cowen Equity Research to be worth $30 billion by 2030. In other words, if you’ve never considered selling your kicks online, perhaps it’s time you did. There is, after all, a massive pile of money lying at your feet.
Fortuitously, eBay—the OG marketplace of choice for sneakerheads—is on a mission to make business easier for Canadian resellers. In a bid to reassert its place in the industry, the e-commerce giant has been busy rolling out new initiatives, from eliminating seller fees for shoes over $100 to launching a comprehensive Authenticity Guarantee program, allowing collectors to rest assured that the Jordans or Yeezys they’re looking to cop are the real McCoy. And now, eBay just announced they are extending Authenticity Guarantee so Canadians can sell authenticated kicks to the largest sneaker market in the world—the United States. This is a huge W for Canadian sneakerheads.
Though online sneaker resale marketplaces have proliferated over the last half-decade, eBay is still one of the largest, with a pair of sneakers sold every four seconds across North America. Last year alone, eBay’s Canadian sneaker sales grew by 325 percent. So, you see why the company’s keen to double down on its efforts in the shoe space. On top of tapping Mississauga-born NBA star and eBay sneaker shopper RJ Barrett to promote the Authenticity Guarantee program, this year eBay appointed a Head of Sneakers in Canada, Shireen Edross. Yup, that’s a real job.
We asked Edross about what separates eBay from the competition, the best-selling sneakers in the country, the most expensive kicks ever bought by a Canadian on the platform, and what exactly her gig entails.
So, you’re the Head of Sneakers at eBay. Pretty dope job title. What is it that you do?
It’s literally my dream job. Everything and anything to do with sneakers is my passion. I could not have envisioned anything better when I was growing up, but here I am. I touch everything on sneakers for eBay, from the authentication center all the way to working with sellers to grow their businesses, marketing campaigns for buyers, working with charity organizations that align with what we’re doing with sneakers and with eBay’s DNA. But overall, I am solely responsible for really making eBay the top destination for sneakers in Canada, for buyers and sellers.
Well, then let’s just get right to it. Make the case for me: Why is eBay the place to buy and sell sneakers right now?
Honestly, for sellers, we’re putting money right back into their pockets. It’s free to sell sneakers on eBay. We do not charge a thing. So right there, we are already giving nine to 12 percent back to sellers [compared to] our competitors who are charging that much. For buyers as well, we’re not charging for the authentication process right now, so you can ensure that your shoes are legit at no extra charge.
Obviously, these days, there are more sneaker reselling avenues than ever that people can take. So what sets you apart from the competition?
We are the original. We are the OG marketplace for sneakers, for finding the rare, unfindable sneakers out there. And now we’re just continuing to add more to the program. We also know the sneaker community likes to give back. We support a lot of charities. Recently we worked with One More Wear, a local charity, for a back-to-school incentive to help bring them awareness. Also, eBay is one of the only platforms where there’s a charity at checkout, giving buyers the opportunity to give back. We worked with The Kickback Connect to list them as a [charity] to donate to at checkout. And we’re just getting started.
But on top of that, in Canada, we are the only reseller of pre-owned sneakers, and that’s huge. There is such a market for those. I’ve been listening to podcasts and some real OG sneakerheads love their pre-owned kicks. They love that they don’t have to spend as much or they’re already worn in. So, having the ability to also legit check those pre-worns just sets us apart.
As you were saying, eBay is the OG sneaker marketplace, but being the first comes with its challenges. You guys had your fair share of problems with counterfeit sneakers in the past. Have you ever been burned with fake kicks personally?
No, because I was always afraid. I didn’t want to be the one to get got [laughs]. So my collection was majority retail, in full transparency, for many years until I started working at eBay and really understood the robust protocols and policies they have in place that protect buyers, like our Money Back Guarantee. eBay has long been an industry leader in the fight against counterfeits, but our Authenticity Guarantee program for sneakers takes the trust factor to a whole other level. We have a dedicated center here in Canada and partner with third-party authenticator, Sneaker Con. We’re using the actual experts in the sneaker authentication business to do this for us. We also have tamper-proof NFC tags—unlike some of the other ones out there, you can’t just take off one of our tags, stick them onto another sneaker, and say it’s legit. I feel there is no reason to not trust us. We’re set up to be the most trustworthy platform.
I know eBay recently opened up the authentication program to include southbound selling for Canadians so they can sell sneakers to Americans. Why is that such a game changer?
Now we’re really giving Canadian businesses and Canadian sneaker sellers access to one of the world’s largest sneaker-buying markets. I mean, we’re talking the U.S. Their numbers are millions and millions more than us. Even their dollar, in terms of their buying power in Canada, is greater than ours. They have a really large threshold before they pay duties and taxes as opposed to us. So, all these are great things that benefit Canadian sellers…. We’ve added in that really nice layer of trust with the Authenticity Guarantee program, so now when a Canadian is selling into the States, it’s coming to the authentication center, which takes care of shipping it out to the U.S. It’s so much easier for the sellers; they don’t have to worry about the extra paperwork, extra steps, or extra costs to get things to the U.S. You just have to worry about getting your shoes to us and that’s it.
Have you noticed any differences in taste between Canadians and Americans? Are there certain trends resonating more in the U.S. than in Canada, or vice versa?
Honestly, no. We’re quite aligned with our neighbours; we like hot collabs and new drops just as much as they do. So, what we’re finding more is that we really want to try to get the inventory that the U.S. is getting. We really want those Travis Scott 1 Frags, which weren’t released here. I think the culture is the culture. It’s the same whether it’s here or the U.S.—we like our Jordan 1s and Air Force 1s, which we’re seeing a lot of on the site.
What’s been the best-selling sneaker in Canada on eBay this year?
The best-selling shoes in Canada so far, since the launch of the authenticity program in May, have been the Air Jordan 4 “White Oreo.” Those were definitely hot and still are; we’re still seeing them come through because of the inventory. When the Oreos came out they were such a good comparison to the Cements. Everyone loved the Cements, so when they had the opportunity to try getting something very similar, that was really hot. Also just recently, Jordan brought out the Pollens, as play to the Wu-Tang Dunks that came out back in the day. Those are super hot in Canada too.
Oh boy, the things I would do for a pair of those original Wu-Tang Dunks.
So dope. Yeah. I mean, I’m sure they’re on eBay. I’m just not sure if I want to spend that amount [laughs].
Yeah, they’re going for a down payment, essentially. Speaking of which, what’s the most expensive shoe ever bought by a Canadian on eBay? Do you happen to know?
I do know that, actually! It happened this March. We worked with Doernbecher in the U.S. on their charity; they had some customized “What The” Air Jordan 1s made. There was an auction for it and all the money went to the Doernbecher hospital, and a Canadian purchased a pair of the Doernbechers for about $66,000 CAD. It was an amazing collab. One of our VPs actually hand-delivered the pair; he happens to live in Portland, where Doernbecher is, so he was like, “Forget it. I’m just gonna go pick them up and deliver them to the center.
Insane! There really are people out here spending that much on shoes. OK, let’s talk more heat. What are the most in-demand sneakers this season?
Ah, that Travis Scott. He gets us every time. Definitely the collabs; they’re always in high demand, not just on our site, but everywhere. So, the Jordan 1 Travis Scott x Fragment and the Off-White x Nike Dunk Low “The 50”—those are definitely highly sought after, looked at, and searched for on our site. But outside of those collabs, it’s the retro Jordans. They’re always, always in demand.
We’re seeing more people turning their passion for kicks into full-on businesses. Any advice for someone looking to make a living off reselling sneakers?
It’s simple—if you want to do that, just get started. Start small with your own collection and build up from there. I don’t feel I’m the most qualified person to be giving any career advice [laughs], but what I will say is follow your passion. It’s cliche but so true. I followed mine and here I am. If your passion is sneakers and selling them to people, you’ll find a way. And we make it easy on eBay; we have so many programs, selling tips, and info sessions that we can hook a seller up with if they feel overwhelmed. We can walk them through the whole process. It’s a great way for us to come together as a community and give best practices. Plus, it’s free to list and sell collectible sneakers—so there is absolutely no risk in just trying.