Stadium Goods on Rethinking Sneaker Retail

When Stadium Goods first opened on Oct. 15, 2015 in New York City and has since attracted a worldwide sneaker community. The opening night was a friends-and-family invitation-only event, and no one particularly realized that this lone sneaker consignment store would revolutionize the fast-fashion industry and resale retail.

The company is comprised of three important facets: its lone retail store at 47 Howard St in Manhattan, its Market Center at neighboring 305 Canal St, and its impressively-informative website online (to reach mass audiences and encourage a larger outreach). Despite its singular store location in the American metropolitan fashion capital, it ships internationally. The curious exceptions are Mexico and Russia though, along with the comically-obvious: North Korea.

Stadium Goods’ steady rise

Customers can buy sneakers from the store’s rich online and in-store library of streetwear, just like any standard sneaker store. But what makes it unique is how it also allows customers to sell off their own new and authentic sneakers off to its virtual marketplace, with helpful instructions online. This sustainable approach only works when Stadium Goods can determine if such sneakers are in premium quality despite their pre-owned status, by sending each pair through “a 10-point verification system to ensure its legitimacy,” according to its website.

Last October marked Stadium Goods’ second anniversary which, in turn, resulted in a massive sale to attract more customers. To celebrate, promote the sale and further spread awareness, cofounder John McPheters and chief marketing officer Yu-Ming Wu were interviewed by HYPEBEAST Radio’s Madrell Stinney and Ben Roazen on the young company’s development and journey so far.

McPheters noted that 90 percent of Stadium Goods’ sales are from online while the remaining 10 percent are from the physical Manhattan store. With such an “imbalanced” breakdown of sales, this seems like a rather unusual breakdown of sales for a fast-fashion store.

“From a cultural standpoint, sneaker culture just continues to get more and more mass which drives a lot more interest and helps everyone grow,” McPheters said.

He also reminisced that when the store first opened, he was happy it had a huge turnout and received considerable press coverage in the fashion, retail, entrepreneur and streetwear spheres. However, it received “very few orders on our opening day, even fewer on our second, third day of business,” relating to how massive hype does not always equal to plentiful sales.

How Stadium Goods is taking on the fast fashion concept

 

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McPheters and Wu view themselves as “retail innovators” by trying to challenge and impact traditional retail in terms of merchandising, service and presentation. They also continue to aim to make people—both customers and casual observers—rethink words like “resell” and “pre-owned” in a more positive light. Those words generally contain negative connotations though and are perceived as having inferior quality or value. Ergo, Stadium Goods has a cyclical approach in selling, receiving and reselling sneakers, both from and to the public again.

As fast-fashion companies have started getting on the sustainable bandwagon in recent years like H&M and Zara, Stadium Goods impressively succeeds despite having just one physical store and marketplace. As of late May 2018, its global audience continues growing, amassing a follower base of over 1 million across their social media channels.

Beyond the walls of retail: The collectable sneaker society

Its influence on fashion and retail even has spilled into entertainment, as many celebrities are shown to have embraced Stadium Goods. An example are YouTube videos that are watched several million times each, where celebrities like actor Michael B. Jordan, singer Liam Payne and rapper Gucci Mane, literally shop at the New York City flagship store. In collaboration with Complex, these videos further offer more publicity for the company.

Both Wu and McPheters agreed that the public generally follows and responds more to entertainers today, instead of athletes whom previous generations idolized back in past years. This has partially influenced male celebrities like Kanye West to dabble into fashion or have their own shoe line (or shoe signature). Wu and McPheters also compared how in concerts, fans avidly buy the performer’s merchandise, becoming an important source of revenue. This does not happen as much with fans of athletes nowadays.

While Stadium Goods has largely experienced success since its birth, Wu remembered that he personally struggled financially to keep himself afloat long before the company’s opening in 2015.

Wu recalled that back in 2002, he resorted to reselling sneakers to make ends meet during and after his college years, eventually internalizing a “hustler mentality

“That’s the hustle. Don’t ever say you’re broke, don’t ever say like you don’t have any money for anything […] Like if you can’t make rent, you got to do something… I got through college reselling [and] I really value the ability to resell so I’ve never seen it as a dirty word… Any time I talk to people, I always say, ‘You know what? If I wasn’t able to resell, I wouldn’t be here where I am today cuz I wouldn’t be hustling on this level.’” Yu-Ming Wu

He and McPheters continue to hustle today, with McPheters hoping that Stadium Goods would expand to have more stores within the next year or so. However, it ideally would be a “small, curated, kind of like a step-by-step approach.” They intend to move forward with more photoshoots, promotions and social media outreach to drive the company forward.

If you’re not in NYC and wonder where you could find some exceptional sneakers and street style pieces, take a look at our London City Guide featuring the best streetwear stores.

Diego Cagara
Diego Cagara

Contributing Writer