BUFFALO — In his parents’ basement on a recent afternoon, Buffalo High School senior Kollen Milmine sorted through a cardboard box he described as his college fund.
“These are my investments,” he said as he reached into the box and pulled out plastic-wrapped T-shirts, fishing lures, a lock and key set, and even a shower cap.
Every item in the box was emblazoned with a logo from popular streetwear brand Supreme. While that might not mean much to some, for Kollen and other collectors, it means $30 fishing lures, $200 used T-shirts and $250 backpacks.
“Usually if it has a big icon ... over time it just shoots to the moon [in price],” he said. “The cheapest shirt in here would sell right now for like $50, and I paid anywhere from $35 to $40 on those.”
Kollen said these items can increase in price because companies deliberately release limited quantities to increase the hype surrounding them, making people willing to pay more for them.
Next to the box of Supreme merchandise, roughly 75 pairs of high-end sneakers were sprawled out across the Milmines’ basement floor, ranging from the Air Jordan 1 to Kanye West’s Yeezy.
Kollen said he first got into sneakers when his brother started bringing home retro Air Jordans: “I hated them at first. I thought retros were ugly, but then I got into them,” he said.
And this past year, Kollen has spent time buying and selling those shoes, joining with his friend, Tyce Dahlberg, to grow an Instagram page called “@plugofwyo” to market them.
Sneaker culture first took off in the U.S. in the 1970s, when shoe companies began collaborating with sports stars to create new styles of shoes, according to Forbes. The first, more serious collecting began in the 1980s with the release of Air Jordan shoes.
Kollen said he joined Dahlberg when the Instagram page had around 1,000 followers. It has nearly 10,000 followers now.
“I have my stuff and he has his stuff, but we both promote,” he said. “We basically have two hands working on one thing, so it just helps with efficiency.” With Kollen in high school and Dahlberg in college in North Dakota, sharing the Instagram page allows them each to respond to messages while the other is busy.
The shoe-selling trade isn’t without pitfalls, though, because fake shoes have become an increasingly prevalent problem.
“I probably get at least a pair a week that I have to send back,” Kollen said.
But his dad, Ken Milmine, pointing to a box of Yeezy Boosts on the floor, said his son has gotten good at spotting them.
“That box came,” Ken said, “and he looked at the box and he went, ‘Dang.’ ”
Kollen said the knockoffs were obvious because the label on the box was not correct. “I didn’t even have to open the box,” he said.
The young entrepreneur said he doesn’t know of many others in Wyoming reselling sneakers, outside of a friend in Green River, but as his page started growing, he has seen a few new sellers pop up, though his appears to be the biggest in the state right now.
And as the next few months go by and Kollen prepares to graduate and head to college, he’s still trying to figure out exactly how he can switch to running his business from a dorm room.
“If I do end up at a college with like a single dorm option, then I’ll definitely just get that and pay the extra to get my stuff,” he said. “If not, I’ll find a friend that’s cooperative enough.”