ShoeZeum Rises from the eBay Sneakerhead Craze

eBay Inc. Staff

American celebrities Mark Wahlberg and comedian Jerry Seinfeld are famous sneakerheads. The most famous sneakerhead, however, is arguably Jordan Michael Geller. And yes, that’s really his name.

Sneakerheads — people who collect, trade or admire sneakers  — are making their presence known on eBay. As we covered last week, the shoe trading craze now represents five percent of the $22 billion athletic shoe market.

Geller is the man behind the ShoeZeum, which at one point was the largest collection of sneakers on the planet.

Geller’s obsession with sneakers started as a hobby. His dad, a marathon runner, used to take him to shoe stores to see the new releases. Geller and his father ogled everything from running shoes and Bo Jackson cross-trainers to Andre Agassi tennis shoes and, of course, Air Jordans.

“I always wanted Air Jordans,” said Geller. “My parents would never buy them for me. So, as an adult, I surrounded myself with the stuff I always wanted.”

eBay Changed Everything
For Geller, eBay changed everything by providing a liquid market and a social network for trading. He started buying Nikes at swap meets and selling them on eBay. Then he’d go to outlet stores and retail stores to get the latest releases, camping out to be first in line to purchase them.

“I built a crazy eBay shoe resale business and then built the world’s greatest Nike collection,” said Geller. “I just did it. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ campaign actually inspired me.”

At its height, Geller’s collection totaled more than 15,000 shoes. “I made all this money on eBay buying and selling shoes, then I turned around and spent all that to build my shoe museum,” said Geller. Just last month, a pair of Geller’s Nike Air Mag Marty McFly Back To The Future shoes sold for $7800 with 22 bids. Geller has completed well over 100,000 transactions on eBay.

A Sale Every Six Minutes
At the peak of Geller’s business, he was selling shoes every six minutes and shipping them all over the world. ShoeZeum made it into The Guinness Book of World Records as the largest sneaker collection. In 2007, the ShoeZeum collection arrived in a new warehouse. You can see the time-lapse video of that transition here

“It’s a celebration of Nike and the power of eBay,” explained Geller. “The whole experience has been a dream job for me. There’s nothing I love more than buying, selling and collecting sneakers. I’m indebted to eBay for allowing me to do what I’ve done. My only job has been eBay and shoes.”

Geller has a law degree and an MBA, and this is all he’s ever done. “I’m exclusively tied to the shoes,” he said.

Meg Whitman even made a special campaign stop at the San Diego ShoeZeum during her 2010 California gubernatorial campaign (the ShoeZeum has since been resurrected in Las Vegas). Geller wanted to thank her with a small gift. What did he buy the woman who could buy anything? He shopped eBay, and purchased her high school yearbook.

Whitman was floored, and Geller was happy to bring her back to a simpler time while she was on the campaign trail. “That’s the power of eBay,” said Geller. “Where else could I go and find that yearbook?”

In the next segment of this series on The Great eBay Sneakerhead Craze, we’ll check in with the owner of the premiere eBay shoe data analytics site: Campless.