Buying Used Boots and Shoes

Buying used high quality boots and shoes offers tremendous value for those willing to put in the time to find a deal. However the buyer need beware of some common pitfalls to avoid when discount shopping. Buyers should err on the side of caution and not purchase shoes that they have any doubt about.

The above Alden LHS in Shell Cordovan were purchased online at ShopGoodwill for $100 and are some of my favorite and best fitting shoes I own. The deals are out there.

What to look for:

  • New and near new. Ideally less than 30 wears.
  • Well taken care of, with original packaging if possible.
  • Brands that hold value better than others (Alden, Viberg).

What to avoid:

  • Worn (not necessarily old) footwear that have formed to the previous wearers feet as they will not have the same foot shape as you.
  • Flipped thrifted shoes unless a really good deal. Look for sharpie or other markings on the sole.
  • Anything that needs immediate repair or with excessive wear and creasing.

Places to look online

Be careful shopping online as finding a shoe that fits becomes even more difficult. Consult forums like Styleforum or Reddit to compare sizes in other shoes before agreeing to buy something that may not fit.

  • eBay 
    • Still the strongest mens footwear marketplace despite competition from newcomers like grailed and enthusiast forums.
    • Handles transactions safely via paypal. Good buyer protection.
    • Strategy:
      • Set up filters for your size from various manufacturers and receive notification emails when new items are listed.
      • Look for mislabeled shoes and boots. eg. unmarked shell cordovan or shoes from unknown makers.
  • Grailed
    • New marketplace for mens fashion that has a healthy shoe section.
    • Handles transactions via paypal. Apparently offers some buyer protection but it’s less defined than ebay.
    • Strategy:
      • Most people will offer way beneath the sellers offer price, be reasonable and your offer will likely be accepted.
  • Forums (SF, Reddit)
    • Buy shoes and boots direct from footwear and fashion enthusiasts.
    • Great deals can be had from people who take good care (with large rotations) of their footwear.
    • Strategy:
      • Not much other than pouncing on a deal when you see it as the best deals can go fast.
  • ShopGoodwill
    • eThrifting Goodwill stores in auction style listings that can have a good selection of usually well-used shoes and boots.
    • Won’t get as good as deals from real thrifting as the marketplace drives prices up. But some sleeper deals are still out there.
    • Strategy:
      • Browse lesser known contract brands like Polo and look for their high quality offerings.