During the course of Air Max month, I estimate that my partner and I entered 100+ online and local raffles to try and get the three sneakers we wanted. We managed to win all three through a combination of very good luck, serious effort and an incredible investment of time. I can’t pass along my luck but I can give you a few tips on how to find all the raffles you can possibly enter.
I recommend starting your search for raffles about 5-7 days prior to a launch (watch launch dates carefully). Before you start, please think about whether any sneaker is going to be worth shipping from Europe – many times the shipping and duties to get the shoe to Canada might end up being more than resale prices. Think about that carefully.
I’m using Air Maxes as an example here but these tactics work for any sneaker from Yeezys to Jordans to Off-White collabs. I’m not a fan of IG raffles so I’m not including any info on how to enter those raffles.
Tip #1 – Stay organized
I know, this is incredibly boring, but if you don’t start out organized it’s easy to make mistakes. You need to keep track of the raffles you are entering or you run the risk of entering twice and being disqualified or missing a store. I recommend using a Google doc spreadsheet or the notes app on your phone. Pick something you can access from anywhere. Start with a list of the stores you think might have a raffle (more on that in a sec) and then mark them off as you enter them.
I also like to keep track of stores that are doing in-store raffle or in-store pick up only, those that are doing FCFS and those whose status is unknown. This prevents me from wasting time looking at the same stores more than once. Another plus of the spreadsheet/notes is that it becomes a good starting place for every future drop you want to get.
Tip #2- Let someone else do some of the work
Start by looking at sites that do some of the work for you. Since you are thinking globally here, you might need to hit up more than one site. Sites I like include Kicks Deals Canada and Kicks Deals and Solelinks. These aggregators will probably start posting lists of stores getting the sneakers up to a month before the drop but won’t have raffle info till the week prior. Keep checking back daily to see if there is any new news.
Tip #3 – Find a comparison sneaker
One of the best ways to figure out which stores to start looking at beyond the ones provided by aggregators is to identify a “comparator” sneaker. For the Atmos Animal pack, I used last year’s Atmos Elephant (this was a very limited release). For the Wotherspoons, I used the most recent Adidas Pharrell Hu (a wider release although in very small numbers). Big sneaker sites like High Snobiety or Complex Sneakers will often have blog posts from previous launches with long lists of stores around the world. Keep adding these potential raffles sources to your spreadsheet. I recommend doing this two weeks prior to launch.
Not only will you have a list of stores that may have an online raffle, you’ll also have a good sense of if they might raffle your target sneaker. If they did FCFS or an IG raffle before, they will probably do it again. This is never a guarantee though, things change constantly.
Tip #4 – Stay dedicated
For both the recent Air Max month launches, I spent time every single day (and sometimes multiple times a day) going through my list of stores and checking their websites and IGs for raffle info. As I found a raffle, I would enter. I would also update my spreadsheet with other info as I found it. Sometimes stores post that they will be putting up a link on a specific day or mention that it will be sent out in their email newsletter – I keep track of everything. A bonus tip is to always watch their IG stories because many times stores will have a direct link to their raffles in them.
I also recommend checking back frequently even if stores mention they are only doing FCFS. This can sometimes change at the last minute and you don’t want to miss out!
Tip #5 – Read everything carefully
Entering some of these online raffles is TRICKY! The requirements are different from store to store. Sometimes you need to give payment info, or your ID number, or follow them on Instagram or answer a trivia question or subscribe to the newsletter/have an account at their site or download and use their app. For one recent raffle, I actually had to add the store as a contact on WhatsApp! Sometimes the info on the raffle is nowhere to be found and you have to read the IG comments to find someone talking about where to find the link. Despite the amount of time I spent on the Wotherspoon raffles, I still missed out on two I was watching for, missing the deadline by hours.
The other reason to read carefully is that sometimes the online raffles are for in-store pick up only. It would be terrible to win one of those raffles only to find out you have to be in Paris to get the sneakers. Once you find that info add it to your spreadsheet to keep track of it.
Tip #6 – Some raffles don’t look like raffles
Some sneaker stores are doing fun/tricky things with their raffles. If you know a store is getting a sneaker you want and you can’t find any info on the release anywhere keep an eye on their IG anyway. A local boutique began posting older Air Max models on IG in the week before Air Max day and asked commenters to name them. As a fan, I couldn’t resist but I began to suspect that something might be up. I made sure to keep commenting on every post and sure enough it turned out to be a secret raffle for the Wotherspoons. Which I won. In the end that turned out to be the only raffle win for me despite entering a total of 50+ raffles for them between me and my partner.
Which brings me to my final tip:
Tip #7 – Understand there are no guaranteed wins
I’ve had so many other sneaker drops where I put in just as much effort as I outlined in this post and still walked away with an L. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy to move on. It hurts, especially after spending all that time entering and then seeing other people win. But it’s part of trying to get the sneakers you want. Last Air Max month I put in the same amount work and walked away with one win, paying resale for two of the other sneakers I wanted. Last year during the Off-White releases, I entered probably 100 raffles for the sneakers I wanted and didn’t win a single one (the Jordan 1 came from a lucky Nike.ca purchase, the Air Max 90 was a gift and the Presto was acquired through resale). Putting in the work means you are giving yourself the best possible chance to get what you want, at least you will know you did everything you could. I usually feel bad for a bit and move on to the next one.
I hope that helps everyone understand how I manage to get a decent amount of the sneakers I want. I put in hours and hours of work and research to get them. I’m sure some of you reading this think I’m completely crazy – even my sneaker friends find this over the top.