Global stock markets are yo-yoing, cryptocurrencies are struggling for mainstream acceptance and traditional safe havens such as bonds aren’t exactly delivering big returns.
Perhaps this is why we’re seeing less conventional investment behaviours, particularly from investors with the ‘play money’ to dabble. From footwear to wine, these less trodden paths make a great barbecue conversation and can be a good gamble – for those who can afford to lose their investment.
During the 1990s, adults and children alike became obsessed with the Beanie Baby brand of stuffed toys. Although most retailed for less than $US10 (and still do today), the relative scarcity of certain styles created a thriving collectibles market that commands prices above $US5000 for some varieties.
Identifying the next craze may be tricky, but long-established brands such as Lego can also provide reliable returns if you purchase wisely: some limited-edition Lego sets produced between 2007 and 2009 now fetch more than 10 times their purchase prices, for example.
Traditional investors may raise their eyebrows, but the market for so-called “deadstock” sneakers (unworn shoes that are no longer in production) passed $US1 billion in the United States alone last year, and just one pair can command $US25,000. Sneaker makers are actively fuelling the market, releasing limited-edition shoes they hope will bestow cachet on their mass-market products. Trading infrastructure is maturing: two big deadstock retailers, Flight Club and GOAT (the latter backed by seed accelerator Y Combinator) recently merged, and GOAT announced it had raised $60 million in new funding.
In decades past, a rule of thumb for wine aficionados was to buy five cases, wait 10 years, drink two of the cases and sell the remaining three. The return on those three cases would be enough to purchase another five new cases. But in 2018, good French wines can offer much better returns than that: the Burgundy 150 wine index rose 298% over the past 15 years, for example.
But your investment needn’t take up your entire cellar or garage to generate substantial sums: a single bottle of Domaine Romanée-Conti Grand Cru’s 1990 vintage now sells for more than £15,000 ($26,500). Check out Liv-ex (the Sotheby’s of wine) and Wine Owners (the eBay of wine) to get started.