PHOTOS: Sneaker show reveals how young entrepreneurs stay a step ahead in the $2B industry

Ten years ago, off the strength of a buy-sell-trade Facebook group, Jake Schreier launched the Michigan Sneaker Xchange (MSXC), a tradeshow that now boasts more than 10,000 pairs of footwear on offer. He was just 14.

"I've been buying, selling, and trading since I was 10," he says. "I realized quickly I couldn't afford all the shoes I wanted so I had to sell a few pairs to make a few dollars on top."

Model D photographer Steve Koss visited Saturday's event at Huntington Place (formerly the Cobo Center) in Detroit, where more than 100 vendors gathered, some even traveling from Chicago to participate. The popularity demonstrates that estimations that the sneaker resale market, currently a $2 billion industry in North America alone, could grow to be worth $6 billion globally by 2025 may, in fact, be on the money. 

Schreier will be the first to share that sneaker culture has transformed since he began his own business. "When we first started doing it we would get a couple of hundred people at these events, but it's become more mainstream, especially with the bigger companies are coming around to it."

"Now you can click a button and buy a $20,000 pair of Yeezys that before you had to search 30 consignment shops for." 

Detroiter Tanika Dunbar, 22, works with Schreier at MSXC, and has been selling sneakers for nearly nine years.

"I've always loved sneakers and fashion," she says. "Finding different events gave me an outlet on the community and I learned how to network at a young age. Before I worked with [Schreier] I was doing everything by myself, buying sneakers with my parents, making them go to events, sit outside, sleep in the car with me, all that good stuff. Then it turned into this once he offered me the opportunity."

Zion Elias (L) has been in shoe business for more than five years, and drove from Chicago with business partner Deandre Wright to participate in the event.

Schreier loves the way the events bring the community together, pointing to people who come from all over the state to participate, and he takes pride in the organizing of more than 20 events so far. 

"There's time's when it gets too stressful, and [I think] I've got to stop doing it, but don't think I could sleep at night if someone else came in and were doing it better, and I don't see anyone being able to."

"We had our first event at Modern Skate Park," Schreier explains. "We blew it out a little too much, a couple of events in we had to switch to Ultimate Soccer Arenas." 

The arenas weren't perfect either, and the group settled on the Cobo Center, now Huntington Place. "We never thought we'd end up in Detroit, but it had the room for expansion. We started with a 6,000-square-foot room, moved up to an 11,000."

Now MSXC has grown to require a section of one of the ballrooms at the center, and after a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19, has come back stronger than ever. 

"We threw a couple of events during the pandemic at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, but this is our home, this is where we are going to be for a while, and I am sure soon we will need to open up the whole ballroom."

"We aren't going anywhere."

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