Junior starts Instagram reselling business during the pandemic

May 12, 2021 — by Serena Li and Minsui Tang
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Junior runs an Instagram page, @sneakerinca, selling items such as clothing, shoes and hyped accessories and has earned $10,000 in one year. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 30, 2022. To protect the identity of the Instagram business owner, their name was changed to their initials, and their pronouns were changed to they/them.


In July, junior AL purchased a pair of shoes for $130 from an Instagram shoe seller to resell on their own Instagram business page, @sneakerinca, where they sell “hyped” items, from shoes to streetwear brands.

AL expected the shoes to arrive in two to three weeks; however, the shoes were nowhere to be found even after four months later. They continuously attempted to contact the shoe seller, but the shoe seller brushed it off saying that it was stuck in delivery.

Finally, in November, AL heard from the seller that the shoes were not going to be delivered. AL was refunded $100, and lost $30 in this exchange and considered themselves the victim of a scam.

This is just one example of the challenges AL faces in running their Instagram business.

AL started the page at the beginning of quarantine in April of 2020 after seeing similar pages, such as @lucidsupreme, on their Explore Page. With extra time on their hands due to online school, AL decided to start the account to develop a new hobby and make money. Currently, the page has 2,150 followers and they have made around $10,000 total.

AL gets their items from various resellers on Instagram who sell them to AL for a cheaper price. AL then gauges the market and resells the products at a slight markup, but still prices the item about $20 to $30 below the actual market value. Then, they create either an Instagram story or post to advertise the item, captioned with the item’s description and the new price.

“I usually decide what to sell based on what I have, what I can get from other stores and hyped items at the moment,” AL said. “Sometimes I also put up Instagram polls or Q&A’s to see what my followers want, and I’ll try my best to get those items.”

Their customers are primarily high school students or adults who directly message AL to negotiate a price. Once a mutually agreed price point is reached, AL packages the item and mails it to their customer.

Sometimes, AL runs into customers who flake, or agree to buy a certain item but turn back on their decision at the last minute. AL finds this frustrating, but they’ve learned to move on quickly and not let these people hinder their sales.

Another challenge AL has learned to overcome is identifying scammers. When looking through another seller’s information, AL looks for their “reference,” the first post on their Instagram feed. If an account is legitimate, customers will often leave reviews or feedback under their posts’ comment sections, but if comments are turned off, the account is almost certainly a fraud

This method is not foolproof, however. Some scammers work together to help comment on each other’s posts in a “reference for reference” and “feedback for feedback” structure. Others do selective scamming, in which they only sell unfairly to certain customers.

“It’s really complicated, but once you start and you look around, you can tell which accounts are scams or not,” AL said.

AL requests from their sellers to GUA, or give upon arrival for products, which means that they only pay after they receive the product to reduce the chances of buying from a scammer.

As communication between customers and sellers is crucial for making a successful deal, AL has learned to negotiate with others and brush away their frustrations.

With their business running and profits in hand, AL is planning to host a raffle for their followers and donate the money they earn to charities.

AL intends to find out who will be interested in participating in the raffle and get products that will be the most popular among the participants. Their goal is to donate around $100 to $200. Because the event is still in the brainstorming stage, AL is unsure of where they will donate the money to.

“I think this is a great way to give back to the community,” AL said. “In the future, I hope to open a company and sell more items. This experience helped me to learn a lot about business and how to manage money, and it’s been an invaluable experience that I would never forget.”

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