Everyone has a different definition of what a sneaker “grail” is.
For some, it’s the latest hype release that is simply out of their price range. Others see it as a pair that for whatever reason, has eluded them over the years, even though it may still be readily available. And some consider it a very rare sneaker that will probably never be found, but they keep hunting anyway.
That’s the category I fall into, and the kicks in question have long been a deadstock pair of 1985 Air Jordan 1s. Except I wasn’t hunting; I got lucky.
Like sneaker junkies are prone to do, I skipped out on some time with my wife and friends at the pool during a summer 2016 visit to Las Vegas.
I almost missed the glass case at the back of the old Urban Necessities location, but after checking the size (12) and price (US$1,200), there was no hesitation. A brand new pair of Chicago 1s from 1985 (without box) were mine.
Shoezeum recently showed off his sale of a DS pair with box for US$10,000, and prices for worn pairs have also spiked in the past couple of years as the hype for Jordan 1s ramped up. So the time seemed right, although I know DS ‘85s will be even tougher to find in 5, 10 or 25 years, and surely much more valuable.
But that doesn’t mean the money couldn’t be spent somewhere more useful today, or saved. While they rarely fall apart, old Jordan 1s can be very delicate, so there is always a risk of paint chipping or discolouration.
Most important for me, however, was the fact that my mentality shifted away from holding (read: hoarding) shoes to wear or sell at some unknown time in the future. I knew it was time to let go.
I’m lucky enough to have a handful of ‘85 Jordan 1s (including used Chicago 1s), and I wear them all. But I couldn’t convince myself to do that with a deadstock pair.
Many sneakerheads know the feeling of being unable to wear a new pair because the value will often plunge afterward. It’s a lot like driving a new car off the lot as far as depreciation goes.
I also don’t like thinking of sneakers as investments anymore, and have sold the pairs that fit into that category. But I still wanted to maximize my return.
A prominent collector who often sells individual sneakers and entire collections, offered me a deal (30% selling fee) that could have netted me a big windfall via eBay or private sale if anyone was interested. But it also presented a risk of me ending up with less than I originally paid (they wanted to keep the first $1000 guaranteed), so I didn’t see the need for such a risk.
I tapped my sneaker friends network, but no individual buyers or resellers offered me what I was looking for.
In the end, I found the ideal purchaser. Someone who didn’t want to flip the shoes offered me more than double my initial purchase price, and wanted to display them for the public to enjoy.
That means I can go visit my “grails” anytime, and I can wear my ‘85 Chicagos while I do it.
By Jon R. aka. @headzaintredee