“USED shoes?!? Gross!!!”
– Me, for the first 6 years as an eBay seller
Live and learn. But hey, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? And what I didn’t know was that higher end previously owned shoes in nearly new condition are a hot item. How did I stumble upon this nugget of wisdom? At a bustling little heap of chaos I like to call Goodwill Outlet. Yes, that is a thing. It’s basically all the things that don’t sell in a certain time at Goodwill or don’t get in there at all due to overwhelming supply. Everything is dumped into shallow bin style rolling tables and rolled out on the floor. People are lined up to see what’s in the new bins, and when I say “lined up”, I mean poised and ready to knock you down to lunge for all the good stuff. This kind of shopping is not for the faint of heart.
To help prevent injuries and make the fight a little more fair, an announcement is made over the intercom asking that everyone step out of the aisles while they bring out the bins, which are covered with a tarp. Not until the wheels of the table are locked into place will the tarp be removed and shoppers allowed to touch anything. The bins are sorted (mostly) by clothing, shoes, bags and housewares. The competition is pretty fierce for clothing and even more so for bags, but the shoes? You risk losing a limb in that madness. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like that Animal Planet video of piranhas eating a duck.
So after wondering why all the excitement over shoes that have already been worn, I did a little digging and discovered that on eBay alone, at any given moment, there are around 1,950,000 pairs of used shoes listed in the US. Whaaaat? If you filter that search by clicking “sold”, it’s about 750,000 pair over what I’m guessing is 90 days, that’s usually as far back as a search goes on eBay. Narrow it again by prices from $1 to $500 – because let’s face it, you may find one rare pair of Kobe or Yeezy or Jordan Nike’s in your lifetime, or even a pair of Manolo’s worth $5,000, but that’s not the norm. That search brings up 720,000 pairs. So I decided to try to get in on the action.
Now I’m not selling $500 shoes, and I doubt anyone with a brain will be throwing anything like that in good shape in with their yard sale stuff. I do, however, find a few pairs on occasion that are worthwhile with a decent ROI. Here are some examples:
I don’t wear Dansko’s myself, but there is a loyal following and they are known to last a long time. I paid $2 for the ones pictured and they sold for $30.
These are great shoes, I’ve owned a pair before and they are well made and last forever. I have these set aside to list in the fall, but I have sold other pairs for upwards of $30.
Donald J. Pliner
This was not a familiar brand for me, but I thought I’d give it a try and sold these for about $12 with a $1 investment. I sold a pair of the same brand loafers for $16.
Honestly, does J. Crew make anything that people won’t buy? These super cute patent flats were $1 at a yard sale and sold for $15.
Sometimes it’s the style, not necessarily the brand. I’ve had Adrienne Vittadini items listed before that didn’t sell well, but I knew these wedges would be a winner. Paid $2, sold for $18.
Another brand I wasn’t familiar with, but I’m glad I tried it. I sold a pair similar to the ones in this stock photo for $16.
These are just the brands that I’ve had the most luck with so far. I’ve had a few duds, too. I spent $5 on a brand new in the box Anne Klein loafers that aren’t getting much eBay love. A like new pair of girl’s soccer cleats sold with only 1 bid. So you never know.
Feel free to comment with your favorite shoe brands and I’ll keep an eye out for them! Happy shopping!