How This Cool Sneakerhead Mom Beat the Bots

May 6, 2021 | by Michelle Schafer

If you grew up in the 80s like I did, you probably remember watching Michael Jordan dominate the basketball court for the Chicago Bulls. I spent many evenings with my family watching him fly high through the air, hanging from the rim and winning countless games for his team. Michael Jordan is not only one of the best basketball players we’ll see in this lifetime — he’s also quite an entrepreneur! Since his days on the court, he’s built a $1.6B empire from all of his endeavors including highly coveted Jordan sneakers – which he sold to Nike in the 80s and have been released as “retros” every year. So it’s no wonder that my 11-year old son just had to have a pair of Jordans once he hit middle school.

At that point, I was pretty clueless about these high-demand sneakers. I just knew that one of my best friend’s sons, Sean Wotherspoon, had created a successful business called Round Two, that sells the sneakers and other vintage apparel. So she was the first person I called. I was perplexed at the high price tag associated with these shoes, but with a 12th birthday around the corner, I felt I had to treat him to a pair.

And with one pair, came the next and the next. Before I knew it, my son had shoeboxes piling up in his bedroom. I vividly remember him wearing a pair of Jordan’s to his last day of seventh grade and out of jealousy, a kid ran up and scuffed his new shoes, claiming they were fakes. My son was super upset when he came home that day – kids are just mean sometimes.

Some of these shoes were just super difficult to find! We made trips to Round Two in Richmond a few times but then also visited a place in New York City called Flight Club. The line was around the corner of the place and I remember overhearing a mom tell her son, “I can’t pay rent this month because I’m buying you these crazy shoes!” That was a moment I’ll never forget. There were also shoe reselling events where my son would bring boxes of his shoes and try to sell them to other kids. Those were quite interesting!

Learning About “Sneaker Drops”

My sneaker shopping mission continued with more birthdays and Christmases. The first time I scored a brand new pair of sneakers for my son was in 2014 when Nike was about to release the Air Jordan 11 Retro Three-Quarter at 7am on December 20. My son told me that I had to get into the drawing for the shoes and to log onto early that morning. Not really knowing what I had gotten myself into, I logged on, put in my credit card information and waited about an hour until I saw the confirmation email that I had won the shoes. Very excited for my kiddo, I put out a Tweet about getting these shoes and was stunned when someone negatively responded to my Tweet of joy. He basically retorted, “how did you get them and I didn’t?” Haters gonna hate, I guess. I was just happy that Santa Mom could deliver!

The shoe obsession was a bit on and off the rest of his high school years. I did find a pair of Jordan Infrared 11 Low Rare Limited Exclusives on Amazon, of all places. The day he said he wore a pair of Vans, I was ecstatic! I thought he had grown out of this shoe craze but I was wrong. During his senior year of high school, my son said he wanted Yeezy’s. So again, I did my homework to try to figure out where to get these shoes and learned that Dick’s Sporting Goods was about to release them before the holidays. With a limited supply, I knew my chances were slim of getting them. I waited about 90 minutes on the website, hoping to get a pair but eventually gave up. In a last ditch effort, on Christmas Eve, I ran into Foot Locker and was stunned that they had one pair of Yeezys left. I snatched them up, and was super excited to wrap them and deliver them from Santa Mom!

According to my son, Yeezy’s are the most comfortable shoe he’s ever owned so it was no surprise when he asked me for a pair of Black Pirate Yeezys last year for his birthday. Those were a rare find through another friend – and I paid twice the price for them! Luckily, with some advice and research on sneaker blogs, I’ve figured out the ultimate hack: downloading the Adidas “Confirmed” app so I can get ahead of the sneaker drops. It seems so intuitive but for this busy working mom, it was the perfect answer to all my future birthday and Christmas shopping! In the last 6 months, I’ve scored 5 pairs of Yeezys for my kid, my boyfriend, his son and my best friend. Like the Jordan 11s, you enter into the drawing and it’s really just hit or miss.

Blaming the Bots

Unfortunately, I have been rejected a few times from the shoe drawings but I think I know exactly who to blame: sneaker bots! Yep, that’s right. These bots can snatch up the sneaker inventory faster than I can say the word Yeezy. Nike, Adidas, LeBrons and all high-demand shoe retailers know that sneaker bots are a huge problem — but luckily for my client, Cequence Security, the sneaker bots are finally getting the takedowns they deserve! Cequence Security is helping many large global retailers fight bots during hype sales, like the sneaker drops. And that is good news for me – the less bots, the less competition for these shoes. After all, who wants to pay twice or three times the price for them?

My son was recently home from college for the Easter holiday and I surprised him with a pair of Yeezy Boost 350 Sand Taupe sneakers. He was stunned that the Easter Bunny delivered these amazing shoes. Now he can hop around campus with even cooler shoes. Let’s just hope he gives some credit to his cool “sneakerhead mom!”

Photo taken at Sean Wotherspoon’s Round Two store in Richmond, VA. Sean has since opened stores in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Miami and has worked with Nike and Adidas to design unique, high-end shoes. 
The first pair of Yeezys on Christmas morning. Look at that smile!
Michelle Schafer


Michelle Schafer

Senior Vice President & Partner at Merritt Group

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