New York-based Stadium Goods, a retailer and marketplace in the multibillion-dollar collectible sneakers industry, has launched a store on Alibaba’s cross-border ecommerce platform Tmall Global, reports Alizila.
The company opened for business last October, launching a website to handle online orders and a bricks-and-mortar location in Manhattan to allow for in-store purchases. Stadium Goods also has what it calls a Market Center around the corner from the retail outlet where sellers can bring their sneakers for appraisal and authentication.
Sneaker collecting is a subculture, people invest in authentic collections and consider sneaker collecting a form of art, such as collecting vinyl records or comic books.
The fixation with sneakers has helped grow the collectible sneakers economy to $1.2 billion in the US and $6 billion worldwide.
Companies like Stadium Goods have stepped in to facilitate sales between those looking to unload anything from a Nike Air Jordan 12 Retro DB ($9,500) to a suede Adidas Stan Smith ($95). Transactions can also take place on C2C ecommerce sites such as eBay or web forums.
“The interest in specific styles in China is exactly the same as that in the US, which means the level of demand is similar as well,” said John McPheters, co-founder of Stadium Goods.
Although Japan’s more mature sneaker market may have been a better option to expand the startup, China’s growth potential was the main driving force to launch on Tmall. The demand in China is rapidly increasing.
A Chinese shopper walked into the Manhattan store and paid $10,000—in cash—for about 50 pairs of Nike Air Jordans, which were purchased for resale back in China.
In order to tap the China market, Stadium Goods needed to find a way to conduct these transactions on its own, as well as find operational and logistics support that it didn’t have. The company also needed to build brand recognition so Chinese consumers would trust and purchase from a virtual unknown.
That vetting process creates a barrier to entry, you really have to earn your place on Tmall. If it was just green light go, it wouldn’t be as meaningful to us. – John McPheters, Co-Founder of Stadium Goods
A version of this appeared on Alizila on August 4. Read the full version here.