Selling Shoes and Sneakers on eBay

Various shoes piled on shoe boxes

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Shoes are a resale item many sellers overlook. They may think that no one would buy used shoes anywhere, much less online without even trying them on. Or, sellers may not be able to get past the ick factor of used shoes. Let's face it, someone's foot has been in that shoe, and they have walked in places that might have been unsanitary. Well, if this is your mindset, you may want to rethink your position on shoes. They are easy to find, easy to sell, very simple to ship, and can be quite profitable. 

People Really Do Buy Used Shoes

If you have any doubts, here are some stats from eBay about shoe sales to help convince you:

  • eBay shows over 1 million completed sold listings in the shoe category, in used condition, in the last 30 days
  • 60 percent of those sold listings are for women's shoes (so men buy them, too!)
  • Flats and oxfords account for the largest percentage of shoes by type (23 percent)
  • Used Christian Louboutin heels have sold for over $5,000

The Kind of Shoes That Are the Best Sellers

Contrary to popular belief, the best sellers are not the fancy high heel high fashion stilettos shown in magazines or on internet ads, or athletic shoes endorsed by the latest sports celebrity. The most consistent sellers are practical shoes. Also known as ugly shoes. 

Why? Because the largest generation of humans, Baby Boomers, are aging and either already have, or are starting to have foot problems. This has created a demand for comfort or orthotic shoes. More and more Boomers are diagnosed with Diabetes every day, which affects circulation and can cause neuropathy in feet, and this sometimes calls for special shoes. 

Furthermore, comfort and orthotic shoes are not cheap. Some sell for over $200 retail. Couple that with senior citizens on a fixed income and relying on Medicare (which does not cover the cost of shoes), Boomers look to eBay to find what they need for comfort and function, rather than paying full retail. Some of the most profitable brands to sell include:

  • Aetrex
  • Alegria
  • Aravon
  • Dr. Comfort
  • Drew
  • Finn Comfort
  • Rockport
  • SAS Tripad Sandals
  • Vionic

While resellers can flip virtually any shoe for a profit, the key to a successful shoe reselling business is knowing what brands, styles, and colors are trending. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age and experience foot problems, comfort and orthotic shoes will grow in demand in the resale market.

How Much

Just like any other product on eBay, prices vary based on many factors. It is not unusual for a used pair of shoes to sell for over $50. Selling price depends on the brand, condition of the shoe, listing type on eBay (fixed price or auction), and if the seller took a low best offer. Also, consider that wide and narrow widths sell for a higher price because they are harder to find. Remember the law of economics that states the less there is for something the more someone will pay for it. So the answer to this question is, "It depends." Here are a few examples that offer some guidelines:

  • Dansko black Sanita clogs, a popular shoe for food service, sells for around $50 in good condition
  • Cole Haan sandals with Nike Air soles sell for around $35 in good condition
  • Nine West tall leather boots sell for around $50 in good preowned condition
  • Naot shoes can sell for $70 in good used condition

Sneakers Sell Also, Just Not As Much

Although not the largest segment of used shoes on eBay, sneakers and athletic shoes play a large part of the used shoe market. May sellers specialize in athletic shoes only, and this is a niche where you need to do your homework. Some brands and styles that can sell for high prices in used condition include:

  • Asics gel running shoes can sell for over $100 used
  • Hoka One One running shoes can sell for over $85 used
  • Vintage Nike waffle running shoes can sell for over $200
  • Adidas Ultra Boost shoes can sell for over $200 used
  • Nike Air Max 90 Ultra running shoes can sell for over $175
  • Nike VaporMax can sell for over $150

All prices are for used shoes, in good or excellent condition. If you have a teenage boy in the house, who outgrows shoes before they wear out, eBay can be a great place to both buy and sell his shoes. You can buy a great pair of expensive shoes with lots of wear left, and sell shoes your son has outgrown for a great price. 

Where to Find Used Shoes

First, look in your own home! The average person has 12 pairs of shoes in their closet, most people have more. Once you find out how much your gently used (and rarely used) shoes sell for on eBay, you will be motivated to list them! Next check thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, consignment stores, and church rummage sales. Make sure to check the soles for excessive wear or holes.

Check the collar of the shoe, the part that goes around the ankle, for holes and wear. If selling shoes that a senior citizen would wear, make sure the sole is not worn down or slippery. You wouldn't want your buyer to slip and fall and get hurt. To see the eBay market value of anything, follow these steps:

  1. Search for the item you want to find a price for
  2. When the results are returned, look on the left margin for the filters
  3. Scroll to the bottom and choose sold listings
  4. Next, choose preowned for the condition
  5. Use other filters including color, size, and brand to find comps that closely resemble the shoe you have
  6. Use the sort button on the top right to sort in highest to lowest to see the best case scenario to the worst

Remember to always check completed listings when doing price research on eBay. An active listing is not a good comp because anyone can ask whatever they want for an item, but that does not mean they will get the selling price. Sold listings show the history of sales, what actually buyers really paid.

eBay research is not exact because there are many factors that affect the sale price including listing type, if the best offer was accepted, if shipping was included in the price or charged separately, if the seller offers his listings internationally (buyers in other countries often pay more than Americans because their supply of goods is much less), and the time of year. Sometimes items sell for more in the fourth quarter (holiday time) than during the rest of the year. ​

How to Ship

This is probably the easiest part of selling shoes. The USPS makes a special box designed specifically for shoes. Those can be ordered online for free, and are delivered to your home by your mail carrier. This box can only be shipped priority mail, not first class or parcel select. For smaller shoes like flats, sandals, flip-flops, or slippers, a padded flat rate envelope works well.

It is also free from the USPS but must be ordered online—these envelopes are not available in the post office. If you use a PFRE, don't overstuff, don't use it for shoes with pointy heels that could poke through the package, and don't fold over boots and shove them in. Think about how the buyer would like to receive the item. 

Be Careful With Knockoffs

You have probably heard stories of people selling rare Nike Air Jordans on eBay for thousands of dollars. This does happen but is rare. What is much more common are fakes or knockoffs. Yes, even Nike shoes can be fake. The world of counterfeit items extends far beyond handbags, watches, and sunglasses. If you think you have a high dollar pair of Air Jordans, or another type of expensive or designer shoe, spend some money to have them authenticated before you list on eBay.

There is a service called Authenticate First than can authenticate designer items via email and photos. You send the photos of the item to them, and their staff of highly trained authenticators, who have extensive experience in fashion and high-end brands, can determine if the item is authentic or a fake. If authentic, they will issue a COA (Certificate of Authenticity), which you can include in your listing on eBay.

The cost for this service is about $20 and well worth it. If you list fakes on eBay, and you are caught, you can be suspended either temporarily or your account can be shut down permanently. Be careful and do your homework before listing any high-end item, or one that could be faked.

If you can work around the ick factor of used shoes, you can make good money on eBay, consistently, month after month. Some brands of shoes have a regular retail price of over $300 new. Many folks, such as retired people on a fixed income, young people just starting out on their own, people who are committed to debt repayment, or just frugal consumers, will not pay full retail for anything.

eBay resellers can easily and consistently find shoes for between $1-$5, sell them at 10, 20, or even 30 times the thrift store price, and the buyer gets a fantastic deal. Resellers make a profit as the middleman, eBay gets their cut via the fees, Paypal makes money for the transaction, and everyone is happy.