THE MIDFIELDER ON THE SNEAKER GAME, AND THE SOCCER GAME
Samuel Ruiz Plaza, or “Sammy with the Good Hair” as he has been known since he debuted with the Crows in 2016, is a midfielder with a national championship, a North Conference championship, and a burgeoning business selling sneakers. When we found out that last bit, we just had to know more. We sat down with Samuel to get the whole story.
“Buy shoe low, sell shoe high, repeat. Easy, right? Not so much.”
It all really started in my dingy college dorm room with my roommate and me buying Supreme [a popular, limited run, collectible-driven sportswear brand from New York City] and now I’m buying and selling hundreds of pairs of shoes. It’s been a ride.
In a nutshell, today, I’ve built a business by buying sneakers directly from retailers (Nike, Yeezy Supply, Footlocker) and then selling them marked up on the secondary market. I’ve basically scaled my hobby and started to master the art of sourcing. For me, being able to source from retailers is so important as I try to maximize my margins. I buy, for the most part, all my inventory online and I sell mostly online and through secondary marketplaces, which act as an intermediary.
It’s a far cry from flipping Supreme! Back in 2016, we would both get on our laptops at 11:00am on Thursdays and purchase what we thought would be the most profitable item releasing that week. We would go sell it on eBay moments after the release and make a quick profit. We both enjoyed it.
We would get a rush from flying through the checkout process to try to secure items that would sell out in seconds.
Thursday mornings evolved into staying up into the middle of the night to buy Yeezy’s or whatever ‘hype’ release could make us some lunch money. Profits aside though, it was something fun to do together. We connected through it.
“After the Nike Air Jordan 1 ‘Royal Toe’ release, I realized this sneaker thing could be more than a hobby.”
After graduating from college in the spring of 2019 and entered the ‘lucrative’ world of being a Division 3 men’s soccer Graduate Assistant, I had to find a way to make some extra cash. When the world froze due to COVID-19, I had a decent amount of extra time on my hands.
That’s when I decided to get back into the resale game and take it seriously.
What started that summer with just a few pairs on every shoe drop began to slowly scale to 5-10 pairs a release. It kept growing from there, and an inflection point was the Nike Air Jordan 1 “Royal Toe” where I was able to secure about 40 pairs at retail. I used part of the profits to by the hottest Yeezy Supply sneak at the time and then turned that into hundreds of Yeezys. It was a good summer.
Probably my biggest get on a single shoe, though, was the Nike Dunk Low x Cactus Plant Flea Market ‘Pure Platinum’. That’s quite a mouthful of a name, but it is the hottest Nike silhouette, it’s covered in Swarovski crystals and is a collaboration with a popular streetwear brand. They’re crazy to say the least and they go for the NASA (in layman’s terms: they are worth a lot of money).
Sneakers have become collectibles. I am a big believer in Jordan 1 Highs as collectibles that will accrue value over time. Outside of the “Royal Toes”, I hold almost every Jordan 1 High I can get my hands on. I equate them to Blue Chip stocks. Along with the current value and demand for Jordans, the brand itself has immense history and massive cultural significance. Michael Jordan is so much more than the greatest basketball player of all time, he is an icon. The Jordan brand will live long after two-three’s time on Earth, and that alone makes be believe in their value.
The sneaker space is full of such innovative and creative minds, people are always finding different ways to leverage their ideas and monetize them. I have, in a sense, created an umbrella business around the world of reselling sneakers.
I do so much more than just buy and sell. I have found different demands and niches in the industry that I have been able to monetize and turn into capital that I can reinvest into the shoes. All of these intertwining businesses build off of each other and have allowed me to quickly grow my business, and my skills, too.
“Nike Mercurial Vapors have always been my weapon of choice.”
Since the age of five, I’ve always seemed to have a ball at my feet. Soccer has been an escape, the place where I can express my personality and be my true self. That’s why I am still playing at 24. I love it.
Where my desire and drive to play the game at a high level really started was when my family spent a year in Spain back in 2010-11. I was 13 and it was such a pivotal time in my life.
I played for the local academy and was exposed to a very high level of soccer. We played in a league with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Getafe, and Rayo Vallecano and, along with that, my friends and I would play on the streets until the late hours of the night--3 to 4am sometimes! That’s where my game really evolved.
I was a new player when I returned from Spain, and really excelled in my high school and club career.
I went to Messiah College [a Division 3 powerhouse] and was a four-year starter on a team that won a National Championship to go with an Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen appearance in my time there. As an individual, I was an All-American my senior year and everything about my time at Messiah was transformative.
“I was fortunate to be a member of the very first City team. #SoccerIsAGift”
Back in the spring of my freshman year, Jeremy Iwaszkowiec reached out to talk to me about possibly playing for some sort of amateur team. It sounded awesome, and it was super cool to sign a ‘contract’ and get announced on social media.
Along with that, I love building and being one of the first players on the new and exciting club on the block was something that gave me energy and life. There was so much energy around the club, from day one. I loved every moment of that first season.
I will never forget the season opening draw against Bavarians in Milwaukee or the home opening win against Croatian Eagles at the infamous ‘Barnyard’. It’s cool to be with the club six years later, and to have gotten to watch it grow and evolve in that time.
“I really do love everything about this club.”
Messiah was my soccer family for the four years I was there and City is my new soccer family. All my best friends play on the team and there is nothing I love more than kicking a soccer ball around with my homies. With that, the way the club has been built is incredible. Truly.
It is a special club that will always have a special place in my heart.
I have had many opportunities to head back to the east coast and, believe it or not, this club plays a huge role in keeping me in the Twin Cities.
Why? Soccer is a gift and the guys all believe it and live it to the fullest. It’s so fun to watch the community that supports us grow every year. We really do have the best fans in the country and we’re by far the most exciting club from a marketing standpoint. The team has become incredible tight knit and is truly a brotherhood.
If I could use a metaphor to explain, City is the Bitcoin of lower league soccer and we are just hitting 1,000 on our way to the moon!
Probably my biggest highlight was the 2019 season, being a member of that title team. I am looking forward to doing much the same this season, helping taking City to the moon. We really are headed there and I feel sorry for anyone in our way.
Rocket ships move very fast...