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  4. This reseller's side hustle started as a way to get his family out of debt. Now he's made over $1.4 million on StockX by working around 10 hours a month.

This reseller's side hustle started as a way to get his family out of debt. Now he's made over $1.4 million on StockX by working around 10 hours a month.

Danni Santana   

This reseller's side hustle started as a way to get his family out of debt. Now he's made over $1.4 million on StockX by working around 10 hours a month.
  • Ray Cao began reselling sneakers and apparel at 17 to help get his family out of debt.
  • Cao mostly now sells on StockX and has eclipsed $1.4 million in sales on the marketplace.

Ray Cao helped get his family out of $200,000 in debt by turning to resale as a teenager. Now, eight years later, his hobby has evolved into a profitable side hustle.

As a teen, Cao's parents racked up gambling debt and invested in penny stocks that backfired, he told Insider.

"What got me into reselling was just being desperate to improve the financial situation for my family," Cao said. "There would be arguments every single day regarding what we can spend money on."

In 2015, when he was 17, he used his paychecks from working at a bubble tea store in New York City to invest in sneakers and merchandise.

He started by reselling Supreme clothing and Yeezy sneakers.

"I was able to increase my inventory and scale, and that's when I really saw, 'Wow this could be, like, a huge income stream,'" he said.

His parents have been an active part of his resale business since the beginning. Cao recently left a full-time job in finance to pursue other business ventures outside of reselling. But his side hustle remains a family operation. His parents regularly help him sort through incoming orders for defects and ensure all items are included in shipments.

His family is now out of debt, and Cao has made over $1.4 million on StockX since 2017, according to screenshots of his seller dashboards viewed by Insider.

Reselling on StockX costs more but saves time

A turning point for Cao's business came when StockX asked for a meeting a few years ago.

"I eventually garnered the attention of my StockX Account Manager at the time. We grabbed coffee, and this was where the business really took off," he said.

Cao had been rising up StockX's seller rankings. The company offered Cao the opportunity to store his inventory at a local warehouse, which fast-tracked how quickly his team could authenticate items and ship them out to customers.

The platform's automation tools, such as bulk shipping, have reduced Cao's active-work time to just 10 hours a month, he said. In his early days of reselling, Cao recalled manually shipping as many as 1,000 items a week.

Scout, which StockX acquired in 2021, also offers sellers online-inventory management and pricing tools — Scout's mobile app lets sellers use a phone's camera to scan shoeboxes and list items on StockX.

Cao does not have an exclusive deal with StockX, but he said about 97% of his sales occur on the platform. He began selling on the marketplace in 2017, one year after StockX launched to the public. Cao also sells inventory to other resellers at a premium.

"It's true that you don't make the best money on StockX," Cao said, referring to fees the marketplace charges for orchestrating a sale. "The best money will still always be, like, local meetups and stuff like that. But if a company saves me time, I'm happy to make less money."

You don't need to wait in line or stay up all night to get the best inventory

Cao began reselling in 2015 by going after every hype release he could. He recalled staying up all night to manually buy multiple pairs of Yeezys on Yeezy Supply. That's just part of the resale game for many; being available when the product drops is critical to securing inventory.

Supreme merchandise also generated high profits at the time, so Cao would scoop up a lot of items by waiting in line at the store or on the streetwear brand's site.

Now he actively goes for inventory that is readily available and under retail price because more resellers go after limited drops. His go-to items to sell now include artist merchandise — normally tees, hoodies, hats, and other accessories artists sell — from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and Travis Scott. His biggest seller, however, is Fear Of God Essentials, a clothing brand the fashion designer Jerry Lorenzo created.

"I'll just buy a ton at my own convenience," he said. "I don't have time to line up or stay up all night."

According to Cao, he has never relied on bots to secure sneakers or apparel he resells because the technolgy would eat into his margins. Bots are computer programs that perform automatic, repetitive tasks that make it nearly effortless for resellers to check out a large volume of merchandise online at once.

Instead, he's relied on some third-party cook-group connections and the Google Chrome extension Page Monitor. The browser plug-in gives users alerts when a website lists new items.

There are mountains of inventory in Cao's house, but seldom does any of it make it into his closet.

While Cao has also resold Converse and Gucci Ace sneakers, apparel requires a lot less storage space, he said.

Still, his house is packed with goods waiting to be resold.

"My house just looks like a mess. It's just inventory everywhere. Fear Of God hoodies, like, stacked to the ceiling in my parents' room and my sister's room," he said. "I'm planning to get a bigger apartment and then get all that stuff into the condo I'm moving into in a few months."

There are mountains of inventory in Cao's house, but seldom does any of it make it into his closet.

Unlike most resellers, Cao was never enamored with the latest Off-White or Supreme release.

"I never had a passion for sneakers, streetwear, any of it. All of it was like business to me," he said. "It was just solely for the purpose of making money."


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