When Kanye West announced the opening of a surprise, three-day "The Life of Pablo" pop-up shop on Twitter last Thursday, Andre, avid reseller and founder of @SoleStreetSneakerCo, was asleep. "Adidas had a big release that day and I was out camping," he tells Fashionista over the phone. "I thought I was getting a break to go home and have a good night's sleep. But my phone was ringing off the hook from friends and fellow resellers. Random customers were texting me and asking if I was going to get merch." According to Andre, he showed up at 83 Wooster Street, West's "Pablo" shop location, by 7 p.m. and did what any reseller does to make money: He stood in line until the store opened its doors at 4 p.m. on Friday — 21 hours later.
It's a bit of gamble to invest so much time into such a mysterious release. (West didn't provide any details besides dates, times and a location.) Although the general consensus was that the shop would offer the same merchandise that his Yeezy Season 3/"The Life of Pablo" premiere at Madison Square Garden did, Andre and a slew of other resellers had a sliver of hope that there would be Yeezy sneakers up for purchase, too. "I can tell you, 100 percent, that there were at least 100 people in line because they had that hope. They didn't care about the merch," says Andre. "We all knew there probably wouldn't be [sneakers], but God forbid there [were] and I'm not there."
Generally, Andre's schedule for drops is known well in advance and it runs like clockwork: weekends are for sneakers, and every Thursday is dedicated to Supreme. But with such short notice from one of the biggest names in both pop culture and streetwear, Andre's last-minute prep work involved checking if he had enough funds available to make his time and transactions profitable. "To only double my profit off of four shirts... that's not worth the time I invested into being there," explains Andre. "We didn't know if there was going to be one item per person. We didn't know how many items there were going to be. But I knew it was going to be worth it."
In the interview below, Andre filled us in on his game plan for shopping the exclusive "The Life of Pablo" merchandise, posting what he copped on his business's Instagram account and how much he's expecting to make once everything sells out.
As a part of the first group let inside the store, what was going through your head?
I have a pretty great, loyal customer base, so I had orders on certain things going in before the store even opened. We figured they had the solid T-shirts — all of the core items at Madison Square Garden plus some extra. I already had a good shopping list of things that I needed to get that were already sort of sold.
How did you figure out what else to buy?
My biggest concern was finding out the retail [prices] of the items that were new for the store — like the jean jacket and the bomber — and then seeing if anything like it was released in the past. So, for example, the bomber from the last Yeezy tour: I looked on eBay to see how much that old bomber was selling for. Because once I found out it was $350 retail, do I want to invest my money into something that nobody has really seen before? I don't know how "hot" of an item it will be or how much it will sell for, and it was already a pretty high ticket dollar value. Those were the first things that I did when I got in: assess what was there, what was new and what I wanted to pour my money into.
What's your strategy behind posting and selling on Instagram?
I made sure to post a video on Instagram of me inside the store. That got people hitting my line up immediately. I took pictures of the jackets while I was in the store — that had people calling me. I sold one of the bombers for $700 while I was in the store before I paid for it. One of the priorities is getting out there and posting it fast. There's going to be a lot of resellers selling it, so I have to make sure that I strike the iron while it's hot. But I don't like to oversaturate my Instagram. The first day I posted with a bunch of stuff, and [wrote] I have so many things in different sizes, so just hit me up if you need anything. And at the same time, I don't want to fill up my timeline with only Yeezy merch.
How much did you spend on Friday?
Between me and the other guy I had out there with me, I dropped a little over $4K on the first day. It's a bit scary to spend that much because it's going on for three days. But the reason I had to go for it is because Kanye hasn't let me down yet. Everything this man touches has been money in the bank. Him, Kim, Kylie — I sold so many Lip Kits. It's insane.
How did you get a Lip Kit?!
A friend of mine runs a bot program. I had him buy the bot because it's a Shopify site, so it's fairly simple. We were able to buy, like, 80 Lips Kits at $30 a pop and we were able to sell them on average for a little over $100 each. Anything that's West, Jenner or Kardashian, I'm on it.
With how much you spent, what are you thinking about for pricing?
The prices after Madison Square Garden were a little bit high, so I looked at that and I tried to go a good amount lower. I could sell everything I got that first day. I had about 25 individual items, and I sold each item for $30 over and I come back the next day and I buy everything all over again. That makes my day well worth it. I've already sold enough to get all of my capital back. So everything right now is profit, which is great.
What's the general scope of how much you'll profit from this weekend?
I've already made my initial back, and I'm seeing a little bit of profit. The second day I only went out for T-shirts and hats because those are the hottest things. Between the two days I spent about $4,900; I should see back about $7,500, so about $2,500 profit.
In terms of hype and demand, how does this compare to other drops you've gone to?
This was insane. This was just as big. With a Supreme drop, I don't always know how big the line is because I'm always towards the front, but the line will go around the corner. There's been times where I've left and drove around the block and holy shit, it's around two corners. But for this one, the way it was set up, the line went from the store and to the corner, then it went across the street from the corner to the opposite corner. Then across the street again and back towards the store. I could not understand how people would assume they would be let in the store from the position they were in line. Somebody asked me, "Do you think I'm going to get in?" I was like, "Bro, go home." The second day it wasn't as terrible.
Did you show up just as early on Saturday?
I showed up early-ish on Saturday. I kind of cheated because I saw someone I knew [in line] and jumped in with him. Saturday wasn't as crazy as Friday, but it held its own. It's insane how Kanye has people. You know, listen, I understand, it's cool merchandise. I kept a T-shirt. The album is great. I like the music. [The merch] represents that. But it's such garbage at the end of the day.
This stuff is printed on Gildan T-shirts. There are no tags. I had somebody that bought something from me in Los Angeles. I sent him detailed pictures of the item and he was like, "Yo, that's it? Seriously?" There's no price tag, there's no tag on the inside of the shirt that says Yeezy merch or Kanye. It's not made by Adidas. It is a bum-ass $4 T-shirt with screen-printing on it. You can go online on eBay and buy replicas that look exactly the same for $13. But again, anything this man touches, the demand is so real.