The Stock x Mountain Project
The North Face x Supreme Snakeskin Tent
And so, after researching and monitoring Stock X prices for the best part of a month, I finally made my first investment. With the UK festival season just around the corner, I managed to get my hands on the Supreme x The North Face StormBreak 3 Snakeskin tent from the SS18 collection in the green and red colour way.
And so this brings us back to the bus shelter and the start of my next adventure.
Welcome everybody, to the Stock X Mountain Project; a business blog in which I will chronicle my success (and failures) as I add an outdoor twist to the streetwear resell culture.
Each new episode will feature a new item that I have invested in and that I will try and sell on Stock X at a profit. The rules are simple. Each item I invest in has to be something I would bring with me on a camping trip to the Lake District. I will try my best to actually use the item in the outdoors before selling it and photograph my efforts in a series of mini-expeditions around the Lakes.
So, now that the rules have been explained, what better place to start this series than with a 2-man tent collaboration between The North Face and Supreme…
Name: Supreme x The North Face StormBreak 3 Snakeskin Tent
Release Date: 06/07/2018
PART 1 - THE ADVENTURE BEGINS…
I spend the journey from Carnforth to the bus rail interchange in Windermere reading “Prisoner’s of Geography” by travel journalist Tim Marshall. The book basically explains how physical geography has shaped the world we live in and that, no matter how much we develop as a species, we will always be defined by our geographic limits. Take Japan for example. In the early 1990’s, Japan was widely thought to be a future competitor to the United States as a global superpower. To put it simply, nature had other plans.
The four islands that comprise the nation state of Japan are not only situated in the most earthquake-prone region on earth but they are also lacking in soil quality whilst reserves of natural gas and crude oil are virtually non-existent.
As a result, Japan is heavily dependent on food and energy imports and is still recovering from the 2011 tsunami which caused the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The fact that a tsunami (triggered by an earthquake) destroyed a power plant designed to solve Japan’s lack of natural resources highlights the geographical challenges they face. Although Marshall doesn’t actually have a chapter on Japan, they are without a doubt a “prisoner of geography” in the truest sense of the phrase.
I began reading the book as a revision tool for my A-Level geography exams but I find myself reading it for a second time the day after completing my third and final A-Level paper. Anyway, shoutout AQA and shoutout Tim Marshall.
After changing buses from the 755 to the 555, I embark on the second part of my journey and head towards Grasmere. I quickly check Google maps as we pass by Lake Windermere and listen closely as the pre-recorded tour guide talks through the speakers inside the bus. The pavements of Ambleside are crowded as ever and it’s not long before we’re driving by the caves of White Moss and Rydal water. Upon disembarking at the bus stop adjacent to the Travellers Pub, I head straight towards the farmhouse halfway up the hill and begin the ascent.
The hike from the farmhouse to the tarn takes me just under 90 minutes (I would have been quicker had I followed the trail and not attempted to scale the lip of the tarn vertically) and I take a quick lunch break before starting the photoshoot.
The tent itself proves remarkably quick and easy to pitch and the only thing halting my progress is the odd gust of wind which threatens to blow the whole flysheet into the tarn - and with it all hopes of selling the tent to StockX.
As the series progresses I will attempt to give advice about selling on StockX and the do’s and dont’s when dealing with the Detroit-based company. Without a doubt one of the “don’ts” is to take your item to the middle of the Lake District, sleep in it and then sell it on again. For anyone familiar with StockX and who has sold through them before, you’ll know that they get cold feet quickly if they suspect anything is wrong with your item. Not only do they check for authenticity but they also check for even the slightest signs of wear with your item. So, with this in mind, it was somewhat of a relief when they passed the tent through verification a few weeks later.
If anyone is interested in seeing some video footage of the tent, here’s a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67c_trT-7Uk to my store’s YouTube channel where I’ve uploaded a mini-montage of the tent with Grisesdale Tarn in the background. For those of you that are happy with just pictures…
Undoubtedly one of my favourite parts of running my business is photographing new products. I pride myself on the creativity of the photos I sell and have found that customers respond best to images that show them the potential of the product and what they can do with the item.
What was so special about this tent in particular was being able to photograph it in the heart of the Lake District in north-west England; worlds away from the streets of New York that Supreme calls home. This unique mix of street culture and the outdoors - embodied by this tent - is something I am fascinated by, hence the decision to start this business blog.
If theres one thing that I’ve learned from starting a business is that progress is defined by certain days and certain moments that inspire you to just keep going. For example, it could be selling an item to an international customer or even just a comment from someone who doesn’t even go on to buy from you. In this case, days like this where I travel 3 hours to climb for 3 more and take photos for another 90 minutes just for one product strengthens the connection between myself and my store. This combination of business and the outdoors is where I seem to be in my element.
PART 2 - APPLYING THE BASIC ECONOMICS
September 29th 2019, Canada.
4 months later and 4,320 miles away from Grisedale Tarn, I find myself scrolling through StockX at the back of a business lecture on a Friday afternoon.
After a successful summer for my business in the UK (profits for June were just £50 shy of reaching the £1000 mark) I’m now on the other side of the North Atlantic studying business and economics at university in British Columbia.
Unfortunately, my idea to buy the tent before the UK festival season didn’t quite pay off and the price never quite reached the levels I was hoping it would. The tent is currently being stored under my bed back home and the idea of actually keeping the tent as a “personal” is becoming more and more likely. Although I entertained the thought of using the tent for an actual camping trip, I never quite had the courage to take the tags off before I left for Canada.
Anyway, now that I’m halfway through my intro to economics course, I’m interested to learn that the economic logic to buy the tent before the festival season was actually quite sound. Here’s why…
Essentially, the demand for a particular product is influenced by five factors;
Price of related goods
Number of consumers
Future expected prices
Using these, I can explain with some degree of accuracy why the tent should have increased in price and also why it didn’t.
Why should the price have increased?
To explain why price - in theory - should have increased over the festival season, we need to look at two things; number of consumers and preferences. Preference is the buyers willingness to purchase a product, providing they have the financial ability to do so. It can fluctuate in intensity over time and in different circumstances, leading to an increase or decrease in demand.
During the UK festival season, millions of young people (many of which are customers of both Supreme and The North Face) spend weekends camping in fields up and down the country to watch their favourite artists perform live. With such a large increase in people camping, the demand for tents increases as the number of consumers increases. Pretty self-explanatory but it’s important to apply to economic logic.
Once we’ve accounted for the increase in the number of consumers, we need to add preferences into the mix. With so many young people attending these festivals being fans of both The North Face and Supreme, their willingness to buy my tent (a collaboration between the two brands) increases compared to other times of the year when there are no festivals; such as the middle of winter. When looking at these two factors, the idea to try to sell the tent during this time wasn’t actually that bad. Nevertheless, the StockX graph for the summer of 2019 shows how price rises slightly during May before dropping to below pre-summer prices in June and then finally recovering to just above pre-summer prices at the end of August.
There are some signs of an increase in demand increasing the price however this is relatively low considering the large numbers of Supreme-loving consumers who attend these festivals. As a result, there must have been other factors which counteracted the increase in demand.
So, why didn’t the price increase?
To answer this question we need to look at the three other factors which influence demand; consumer income, price of related goods and future expected prices.
When considering the impact that consumer income may have had on demand, the fact that people attending these festivals are young and with little savings will have significantly impacted their ability to purchase a high-value item such as a Supreme x The North Face collaboration.
In fact, many of these young people are students with huge student debts and who are looking to save money wherever and whenever they can. Combined with the fact that weekend tickets for Reading festival retailed at £220 this year means that people are unlikely to spend an extra £250 on a tent from Supreme that does the exact same job as a £20 tent from Mountain Warehouse.
This leads nicely onto the role of that the price of related products plays when influencing demand. For a high-value item such as a Supreme product, the retail price is usually going to be above the regular price paid for the same product without the Supreme branding.
For readers who don’t know, Supreme is undoubtedly one of the most exclusive and sought after clothing brands in the 21st century due to their highly-limited releases and anti-establishment culture. People have been known to camp out on streets for whole weekends just to get their hands on certain items whilst others who aren’t able to cop at retail have no choice but to spend hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of pounds over retail in the secondary market.
And so, as I alluded to earlier, people who already have a low disposable income are likely to choose the cheaper alternative even if they would prefer to own a more expensive product. In this case, with alternative and unbranded tents costing just £20 in many outdoor stores, the demand for The North Face x Supreme tent will be lower.
The third and final contributor to why the demand for the tent didn’t increase is the future expected price. Quite simply, if a customer knows that the price of an item will decrease in the near future, they will wait until then before purchasing to save money. When applying this logic to my tent, smart potential customers will have recognised that festival season could potentially increase the price whereas in winter, when the temperature is colder and there are no outdoor festivals, the price of the tent will be cheaper. As a result, they may have decided to wait a few months before buying the tent - consequently decreasing the demand in the short term.
PART 3 - SALE AND SHIPPING
In truth, I had almost forgotten about trying to sell the tent by the time September was coming to a close. The price of the tent on StockX was stagnating and I could use the revenue from a big sale to invest in some new stock for my store. Around about this time I was starting to get some success from buying items in Canada (where the dollar is much weaker than the British pound, despite Brexit uncertainty) and then selling these North American exclusive Patagonia and The North Face t-shirts back to my customers in the UK. Shipping across the North Atlantic was expensive and risky to say the least however the profit margins were still large enough to make in worthwhile. Anyway, with Black Friday just around the corner, an extra £200 would come in handy when purchasing new stock.
And so, at the back of a business lecture on a Friday afternoon, I listed the tent on Stock X at the lowest asking price of £233. The last few sales had been around the £190 mark and so asking for that much was ambitious to say the least.
Throughout this series I will try and give as much advice as possible in regards to selling on StockX. For anyone who is a newcomer to the platform and doesn’t know what I mean by “lowest ask”, here’s how it works.
In truth, I would have happily taken anything above £180 just to get my money back however it’s a good thing I didn’t as, just 24 hours later, I get the following email…
June 14th 2019, England.
The 11:18 bus service from Carnforth towards Bowness-on-Windermere is late. I wait patiently underneath the bus shelter and smile politely at the elderly couple sitting next to me as I unload the 60 litre duffle bag from my back. It is a cloudy June morning in North-West England and I’m on my way to Grizedale Tarn - a relict glacial lake at the heart of the English Lake District.
Inside the yellow duffle bag is a Supreme x The North Face StormBreak 3 Snakeskin tent from week 12 of the 2018 spring-summer season. This is the first Supreme item I have ever bought for resell and I’m heading to the northern English wilderness to photograph the tent before uploading it on my fledgling online outdoor store, iceland_greenland_antarctica. The tent itself is brand new with tags and lies snug inside its original plastic packaging, fresh as the day it was thrown onto a shipping container in China over a year ago.
At £155, I’ve managed to get the tent well below its original retail of £328 and £80 below its live value on Stock X. Nevertheless, £155 is still £100 more than anything else I’ve ever attempted to resell on my website and I am well and truly in uncharted waters. As the first rain drops hit the glass window of the bus shelter, my knowledge of the streetwear industry is entirely based on YouTube videos and fluctuations in Stock X prices.
Born and raised in the southern Lake District, I have spent weekends camping in the valleys and mountainsides of England’s largest mountain range ever since I could remember. Climbing, hiking, running, swimming, kayaking; you name it and there's a picture of me and my brother doing it on the fridge door. As I grew older, my passion for the outdoors and business grew side by side before the two merged together in the winter of 2018 to form my online outdoor store.
Initially, I started off buying and selling The North Face, Patagonia and Berghaus clothing before becoming the youngest certified seller on global e-commerce app Depop at the age of 17. With well over 1000 sales to nearly 30 different countries around the globe, iceland_greenland_antarctica is growing organically and in a very exciting direction. What started out as cardboard boxes filled with second-hand Patagonia fleeces underneath my bed is now an independent outdoor retail store specialising in providing rare, high-quality outdoor equipment to customers all over the world. And now, after spending the summer building a brand new website for my store (and revising for my A-Level geography exams of course), I’m embarking on a whole new adventure.
Being just as fascinated by the glacial processes that formed Striding Edge as I am in the resell culture of Supreme and other “hype-beast” brands, it was never going to be long before the North Face x Supreme collaboration caught my attention.
As you can see in the second image, my total payout is only £195.37 even though I sold the tent for £233. This is important for anyone selling on StockX to consider. Firstly, for selling your item, StockX take 9.5% of the total sale. This is significant for expensive goods but actually works out cheaper than if you were to sell on other platforms such as eBay, which takes 10%. The next fee that you need to consider is the payment processing. This is essentially the fee that PayPal charge for processing the transaction and I'll be the first to admit that this is quite high for what it is. Paypal take 3.4% + 20p every time you make a transfer of money using their goods and services program. Despite this, if it wasn't for PayPal, you would be forced to risk selling the item via bank transfer (subject to scams) or cash in person - also very risky. I’ll talk about this more as the series progresses but PayPal has played a monumental role in the development of the secondary reselling market and has enabled people to start businesses without actually having to invest in a brick and mortar store. Kids (myself included) are now able to grow “side-hustles” from their smartphones; paving the way for a whole new generation of businesses and business people.
Anyway, once PayPal have taken their cut, StockX steps in again to cover the costs of shipping the item. One thing I really like about StockX is that they provide you with a free shipping label to send your item to their verification centre once you’ve sold it and then they deliver the item themselves to the buyer. Shipping expensive items can be stressful to say the least and I have been victim of a handful of scams in which the buyer attempts to claim a refund even though I’ve shipped the item to them fair and square.Shipping couriers like Royal Mail also don’t cover themselves in glory and I’ve been forced to pay full refunds to angry customers because Royal Mail have either lost or damaged the product in transit. StockX does a great job of eliminating this stress and the whole shipping process (more of which later) is highly efficient in my opinion. Furthermore, the fact that I only paid £8.50 in shipping costs for a 2 kilogram tent actually saved me over £20 had I sold the tent on my own. StockX uses UPS to handle all of their UK shipping and implement a flat rate shipping fee for all the items you sell on StockX. This can be a bit of a pain when you’re selling a 50 gram necklace (the focus of Episode #2 in this series) but actually works out to be very helpful when selling awkward items like tents and skateboards.
After all the fees, my total payout came to £195.37 - not bad for an item I was happy to sell for £180 just a day earlier. In truth, I am still not entirely sure why someone payed nearly £50 higher than the most recent sale; especially for an item that was almost £100 below initial retail to start with. Nevertheless, I was’t complaining and immediately began the process of sending the tent to StockX for verification. Another part of StockX which I like is that they pressure sellers to ship the item within 2 working days of making a sale. If they fail to meet the 2-day deadline then StockX imposes a late shipping fee to the seller. As many of you who have bought from private sellers in the past will know, it can be frustrating waiting up to two weeks in some cases to receive an item that you needed last week. Once again, StockX does a great job in making sure the time between purchase and delivery is as quick and as smooth as possible.
In terms of actually shipping the item, StockX email you with a shipping label which you add to packaging box and then take to UPS. StockX only deals with UPS so you need to find the nearest drop-off location for your parcel.
It’s also important to remember that StockX have strict rules on how you package the item. Admittedly, this can seem a bit much but its best that you follow their packaging instructions as closely as possible.
Once you’ve dropped off your parcel at UPS, they take care of the rest and you’ll get an e-mail once your item has reached the verification centre for your country. Being from the North-West of England, my nearest StockX verification centre is London and so it usually only takes 1-2 days for my item to arrive at StockX. Once the item has been verified, you receive a second email from StockX and your payment is released to the PayPal that you’ve connected.
And then that’s it. You’ve successfully sold your item and you’ve got the money.
In this case, the actual process of selling the tent on StockX was relatively smooth and I was able to sell the item and receive payment within 5 days of actually listing the tent for sale. This however, as you’ll learn as the series goes on, is not always the case with StockX. Although there’s no doubt that they’ve improved the ease and efficiency of selling high-value, dead-stock items online, they also have their setbacks. One of these - their rigorous verification process - will be discussed in detail in Episode #2 in this series.
But for now that’s a wrap on Episode #1. I hope this blog-turned-article has been informative for anyone looking to sell on StockX whilst also being of interest to others who are as interested in the reselling culture as I am.
Written by Olivier Jumeau, founder of iceland_greenland_antarctica