By Josh Bryan
When a sports legend dies, most fans see “R.I.P.” However, some big corporations see “$$$.”
Basic economics would lead us to believe that when there is a high demand for a product the seller should raise the price of said product. But there are some social limits when it comes to making profits from someone who has recently died.
Shortly after basketball star Kobe Bryant’s passing, Nike initially reported they had removed from their website all the athletic wear connected to his name. In place, the company wrote a memorial to honor the legend.
However, a later report shows that the corporation had sold out of all the player’s products.
“These products were not deeply stocked to begin with,” Nike’s new products development analyst Matt Powell said in an New York Post article.
Nike had already been keeping a low supply of Bryant gear stocked because sales had fallen since Bryant’s retirement in 2016.
One concern the company had was that resellers would buy the merchandise at retail pricing and then turn around and sell them for a profit. According to ESPN, some price increases are up to 300%.
Popular sneaker buying and selling marketplace StockX has seen some price gouges on Bryant gear nearing the 2000% mark.
However, many other resale websites feel that the actions of this streetwear giant are immoral.
ESPN reported that Urban Necessities said, “Out of respect for his family and legacy, we will not allow price changes on Kobe items.”
The Las Vegas-based company is one of the many resale and consignment stores around the country who are intent on keeping current prices set.
Not only do some feel that raising the prices was disrespectful to Bryant and his family, but also a disappointment to superfans who wanted to purchase the products he endorsed as a final way of honoring their role model. Because of the new increase in cost, many consumers are unable to buy the once-affordable gear.
Some may argue that the price gouges on Kobe products is unfair. While it may be, it’s not illegal.
As of now, the government can control the price of certain necessities. This is commonly seen during times of natural disasters. However, it does not apply here, no matter how much your little brother wants the shoes.
Resellers, in this case, have cornered a market. They happened to have the right merchandise on hand when consumers started to demand it.
This doesn’t mean that resellers should try to make as much money as they can from the death of a celebrity. Rather, they should make their inventory available to those who want the legend’s gear.
Charging several hundreds of dollars for a pair of shoes is not a fitting tribute for a legend.