Back in the old days you could walk into any shoe retailer and expect them to have the shoes you're looking for in stock, even for a good price. That's not the case anymore.

A pair of the Air Jordan 1s when they first came out in the 80s for instance would never cost more than a hundred bucks tops. If you were collecting in the ‘90s and ‘00s, it wasn’t difficult to collect hundreds of pairs without compromising too much on your savings. In the past five years, without an incredible plug, it’s been nearly impossible to grab your favorite sneakers without dealing with a reseller.

One thing that seem to be a factor of this is the hype machine. It’s still the most powerful force behind today's sneaker releases. If a shoe is perceived to be a limited or a megastar like Kanye West wears a certain sneaker, it almost automatically becomes sought after and a must-have regardless of cost. We’ve seen Kanye pull it off with general releases like Nike Flyknit Trainers and Air Jordan 1s, and that celebrity appeal will always be a driver of hype in one way or another. If you check secondary market prices on the adidas Yeezy Boost you’ll see people are willing to sink thousands of dollars to get a super-limited sneaker that's linked to a major celebrity.

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killing for shoes?

Camping out for sneakers has been a part of sneaker culture for years. But when is it time to draw the line?

As much as we’d all like to pretend, sneakers tend to get the best of our emotions. People argue for days on Internet forums about their favorite shoes and the newest ones coming out. There were whispered tales of sneaker violence, some reaching the mainstream, like the 1990 Sports Illustrated story “Your Sneakers Or Your Life?” which centered around 15 year old Michael Eugene Thomas from Chicago getting killed over a pair of Air Jordans. It never occurred to me that this behavior was something central to what we now refer to as “sneaker culture.”

The reason behind these incidents lies in the hype. The hype means that something, in this case a shoe, is so anticipated that people are even willing to camp outside a store just to get themselves a pair. The hype also means that people like things just because everybody else likes it, you often hear people say ''jumping on the hypetrain'' which means that you are jumping on the trend that is the most popular right now.

When sneakerheads on the Internet get fired up over a problem with a release, it’s easy to forget the clerks working in retail across the country. Most of the time, the person behind the register is just like everyone else lining up to get the shoes themselves. They often have families back home. The world won’t end if you don’t get a new pair of sneakers, but taking someone’s life over shoes is permanent.

I’m not here to condemn Nike, Jordan, Kanye, other sneaker blogs, or sneakerheads themselves for creating an environment where deaths take place over meaningless pieces of rubber and leather. They’re not the ones to blame for people acting irresponsibly over sneakers. It’s a case by case basis, but we all need to recognize that violence at sneaker stores happens all too often. No one should have to mourn a loved one just because of a pair of shoes.

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