Used Shoes

I have been rereading The Complete Tightwad Gazette to help gear up for our new budget. I love this book! Although sometimes Dacyczyn can be a bit extreme in her frugality, I am always inspired when I read her ideas.

Last night I was reading her article on used shoes. I have always been a fan of buying everything used, but have sometimes balked at purchasing used shoes. My kids had worn hand-me-down shoes, and shoes from their older siblings, but I have hesitated purchasing shoes at thrift stores or yard sales. After reading her article and doing some internet research, I can’t find much information about wearing used shoes. Basically, if the shoes are heavily worn, they can hurt your feet, but this goes for your own shoes as well as used ones. 

The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to start looking for used shoes. I wash my children’s sneakers frequently so what would stop me from purchasing a good pair of used sneakers and then throwing them in the washer? 

I have purchased used snow boots before, but for some reason that seemed different… 

Anyway, I would love to hear some reader feedback regarding used shoes. Do you buy them, if not why not? Do your kids wear hand-me-down shoes and is there a difference between those and purchased used shoes?

Bowling Shoes
We’ve all worn bowling shoes…. right? 

Post Edit:

I am loving all the comments and feedback on this topic. Since we seem to all have different opinions I figured I would add another $0.02. My kids have all been blessed with extremely fat feet. They have all needed XXW shoes until they are 6 or 7 years old. Because of this I buy most of their shoes at Stride Rite. The exception to this is flip flops and sandals which, if they are a certain style, they are able to wear in a size wide. I agree with many of the commenters that shoes can form to a child’s feet and that wearing shoes that do not fit can cause a child problems later in life.

I also think that as consumers we put way too much faith in sales people at the shoe store. My first job was at a shoe store and I had about 10 minutes of training on how to measure feet. I did not know what I was doing at all. Because of this, for years we took our children to the same Stride Rite store and had the same salesperson. She had worked at Stride Rite for many years and it was obvious she knew what she was doing. 

All this being said, I am not convinced that I would be doing my children lifelong damage buy letting them wear used shoes. I have been to yard sales and consignment stores that are selling Stride Rite shoes with the tags still on for a fraction of the cost. If you know your child’s size then picking up a pair of gently used church shoes in their correct size doesn’t seem to be a problem. 

I think there are many areas where we can save money, if we can save on the church shoes, snow boots and flip flops, then perhaps we can afford to purchase them one quality pair of tennis shoes. Children do not need 15 pairs of shoes. Evaluate what your child really needs and spend wisely.  

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  1. We buy used Irish dance shoes for my daughter (there is an active resale market) because new ones are $140. Used ones not only cost less, they don’t need to be broken in (a long and painful process). Also, preteen girls’ feet grow very quickly, so most of the time I can get used shoes that have only been worn a few months.

  2. Jenny Opperman says:

    I love the Tightwad Gazette! My mom gave it to me when I got married. As for shoes, I rarely buy used shoes. I do pass some of them down the line of my own kids (especially church shoes that are only worn once a week), but let’s face it, kids wear out shoes so fast. I have heard that you shouldn’t wear used shoes because a shoe takes the shape of the person’s foot over time, and if you try to wear someone else’s shoes, it will be uncomfortable and even cause pain. I know my shoes take the form of my feet. I stick to the fall and spring sales on shoes and usually only have to buy my kids a winter pair of shoes and a summer pair, plus church shoes. The expense hasn’t seemed too bad, if I get them on sale. I also tend to buy better brands of shoes (not Payless) because they hold up better and my kids have even been able to wear them two winters in a row if I buy them a little big.

  3. It seems like an okay idea, but I’m not sure. I think it all depends on the shoe. Like it’s condition or style. You don’t want to buy used white shoes if they are all scuffed up. Same with patent leather little girl’s shoes. 🙂

  4. Hi Toni! What a fun topic! I buy used shoes for the kids. I figure why spend $30 on a pair of shoes that they will only be able to wear for 3-4 months. Their little feet grow soooo fast. As long as it looks like its in decent shape, I have no trouble buying it. Now, when they get a little older and need a sturdier shoe, I would likely get a new discounted/clearance shoe. Luckily I have boys who will hopefully not need the lastest and trendiest shoe every season! For myself, I buy new shoes…clearanced. I’m not a shoe person perse. I have quite a few shoes, but am certainly not a compulsive shoe shopper!

  5. For daily wear sneakers and the like, I would not buy used(dress shoes worn to church-not a problem). There are so many little bones in the feet as well as ligaments, joints, etc. that can be damaged due to improper footwear. Everyone’s feet hit the ground in a different manner, due to gait, height, even weight effects the way a person’s foot hits the ground.
    Listen to your kids walk through the house, can you tell which one is coming by the way they walk?
    My husband has the worst problems with his feet, due to the fact that when he was a child his mother would stuff his feet into shoes that were way too small and into used shoes as well. His toes are permantly deformed. It’s awful.
    If there is a Marshalls or TJ Maxx in your area, I get all of my kid’s shoes there. You can usually get a good leather sneaker there for $25 to $30.
    If there is a Steve & Barry’s near you, they carry Stephon Marbury shoes-they are really good leather shoes-$8.98 per pair.

  6. Our family is historically plagued by foot and back problems that could have been helped by wearing better shoes. Shoes, when worn regularly (like tennies) mold to a person’s feet, and like fingerprints, no two are the same. That said, I don’t have a problem with 2nd hand shoes that are not worn on a daily basis like dress shoes, or the snow boots you mentioned. But I strongly feel those daily shoes need to be new and well fitting. That’s my two cents worth! 🙂

  7. I am in total agreement with Melissa, Heather and some of the other girls. My family has a history of feet, knee, leg and back problems. I do hand me downs of just about anything but shoes. I do think church shoes and winter boots are definitely in a different category. So far, those are the only shoes I pass on through my own girls. Good shoes. Good feet. Good posture. Good health. Woohoo!!

  8. My kids all wear hand me down shoes. Well, Kela (oldest) doesn’t anymore, because her feet are bigger than everyone else’s now! LOL I guess she’ll have to start handing them down to me if her feet keep growing!

    I buy used shoes, but mostly just used dress shoes. I keep the same pair of tennis shoes for evah! The ones I have now are skechers, I bought them for $60 in 2004 🙂 they are still going strong, so far. The ones I had before them I had for about 6 years. And they were $35! They were skechers too. 🙂

    When the soles start becoming too thin, I buy the dr sholes thingies to put in them, til I can find another pair I like. I am sorta picky. LOL

  9. I buy used used…… if i need them, God has blessed us with people who have boys older then my boys so they do get me hand me downs!!!!

  10. I think there is nothing more disgusting to wear than bowling shoes! In fact, we all have our own pair (except my youngest). Even though we only bowl about once a year, I don’t want to put my feet in those smelly things. And my husband makes my youngest take off his socks and put on fresh ones after bowling since he doesn’t have his own shoes.

    Yeah, used shoes…not too excited about that!

  11. I buy used shoes at the consignment shop all the time. I’ve never seen scuffed, dirty or smelly shoes there. It’s the only way I can afford Stride Rite, and if a kid has worn a pair of quality shoes only a few times, it surely can’t be worse for my kids than some of the brand new, stiff -as- a -board, high heeled sneakers sold at Payless.

    I think it’s silly to assume that any used shoes are going to be gross.

  12. I am with Liz, Melissa, Heather and others that shoes woren daily should be your own. Also, I was told that tennis shoes should not be thrown in the washer because it breaks down the support of the shoe. It may not make a big difference in causal shoes, but if you have running or athletic shoes that you work out in I would not wash them in the machine.

  13. Well, two out of my four kids have inherited their father’s *extra* wide feet and I have to buy them Stride Rite (or a similar expensive brand). The stores such as Payless, etc. don’t carry ones that are wide enough, and we certainly rarely see their sizes used. Wearing shoes that are not wide enough can definitely cause all sorts of problems.

    As for all the rest, we buy shoes new, wear them and toss them. I agree with most of the other comments, shoes mold to individual feet and can cause problems if shared. The only shoes I *might* consider purchasing used (or passing down) would be rarely worn church shoes.

    Our kids developing feet, knees, legs and backs need proper support. So really I think that shoes are an area where I feel o.k. splurging a bit. Now, used clothing I’m all for, and rarely buy anything other than undergarments and socks new.

    By the way, have any of you shopped at That’s where I can purchase my kid’s new Stride Rites for about $30 a pair shipped (and they have a free returns policy as well).

  14. It depends on what I can find, condition, etc. 😀 I’ve found some great used shoes and then I’ve avoided quite a few others. 😀

  15. I am with several of the people above. My boys have worn hand me downs as very young children, but as they are now walking and running alot I feel that the proper care of their feet are worth buying new shoes for! My feet ache when I have walked around in poor shoes – feet are so unique and taking care of our bodies sometimes may cost us a little bit extra!

  16. I have read Tightwad Gazette a long time ago and I love this book but one of the topics that got me thinking was the hand-me-down shoes. This was my recent dilema for my baby girl of 11 months. I have bought her 2nd hand shoes , just to have something on during cold weather, but it seems that she will walk real soon and the question for hand-me-downs came up again. Brand new shoes are expensive but I don’t want to take chances on my baby’s well being. So it seems that her shoes would cost more than her clothes(hand-me-downs and bought from clothes exchange) : (

  17. i also buy used shoes for my kiddos unless i find a great deal on them somewhere else! btw i tagged you on my blog 😉

  18. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that if you buy used shoes at a thrift store they are pretty safe. I used to work at Goodwill and the shoes, hats, stuffed items and furniture all had to be sprayed with a special solution called Sterifab which after it dries is perfectly safe and what people may not know is they come in and do random checks to make sure you are spraying items properly if not the stores can be fined. Just a lttle FYI for those who are not sure about thrift store shopping, hope this helps.

  19. I think the main issue here is “Does the shoe fit properly” If you go to shoe stores other than ones that have shoe fitting sale people then “How do you know if the shoe fits?” Some are saying even the shoe fitter isn’t qualified??

    I have done both. I do have children who have wore hand me down from their siblings. It’s obvious that some of the children’s feet are alike and some are not.

    I think again it’s a matter of fit. It’s very hard to say that a NEW pair of shoes that doesn’t allow your child’s foot to bend in the right place is better than a used pair that does.

    Let’s face it we are all moms trying to do what is best for our children and families. If we really want to take shoe buying to another level…

    Let’s pray for the wisdom of Solomon and ask God to help us make the right decisions based on what is best for our families. New or Used!!!

  20. Hello Ladies,
    The thing is, we should be doing what’s best for our children not trying to do what’s best. We definitely should pray for wisdom and guidance when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. We are their protectors and should research all things concerning our children. Feet are very important and we should not take them for granted young or old. Spend what is necessary for each child’s best health. As parents it is our privilege and duty.
    Below is some information from American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society, and Right Health

    The primary purpose of shoes is to protect your feet and prevent injury. But in order to do so, they must fit well. Poorly fitted shoes–shoes that are too narrow, too short or too large–can cause discomfort, injury and even permanent deformity. The most important quality to look for in shoes–from a practical standpoint–is durable construction that will protect your feet and keep them comfortable. In selecting shoes, keep this basic principle of good fit in mind: Your shoes should conform to the shape of your feet; your feet should never be forced to conform to the shape of a pair of shoes.

    Some foot changes can occur that are abnormal or pathological. These tend to occur in association with prolonged use of ill-fitting shoes. These problems do not occur naturally and many can be prevented or their progress halted by modifying the shoes that are worn. These problems include:
    Bunions (the formation of a large bump on the big toe, which starts to point toward the little toes).
    Hammering of the toes (curling of the toes).
    Clawing of the toes (more severe curling of the toes).
    Bunionettes (the formation of a large bump on the smallest toe, which starts to point toward the large toe).
    Calluses or corns, which occur on the toes or foot due to high pressure over bony areas.
    Morton’s neuromas (“pinched nerve” between the toes).
    Arthritis of the joints.

    Prevention is always best. To minimize your chances of developing a bunion, never force your foot into a shoe that doesn’t fit. Choose shoes that conform to the shape of your feet. Go for shoes with wide insteps, broad toes and soft soles. Avoid shoes that are short, tight or sharply pointed, and those with heels higher than 2 1/4 inches.
    To keep your feet callus free, choose your shoes wisely. Try to shop for shoes in the afternoon — that’s when your feet are their largest. Why? Because they get a little swollen from you walking on them all day! And be sure to try on both shoes and walk around a little bit before buying them. Even if they look really cool, don’t get them if they don’t feel right. Often, a different size or width can make a big difference.

    And even if you love a certain pair of shoes in your closet, don’t wear them all the time. Mix it up by wearing a variety of shoes. That way, your feet will get a break and won’t always be rubbed in the same places.
    Hope this helps. Blessings, Tara

  21. What a great Topic. I found it interesting from the stand point that we sell Used Shoes on the NET, and have done so for 7-8 years.

    Several Things to keep in mind. 1st, do not buy a pair that has the Footprint of the Owner on the Insoles. A good sign the shoes are not rotated for wear. 2nd, use a mild solution of Clorax, and Soapy water to disenfect the shoes, even if there is no odor. And 3rd and most inportant, no matter how good the deal, be sure to buy your size. A cheap pair of Salvatore Ferragamos will do your more harm if they are one size to small, than the good you will get from the savings.

    I do hope you will not mind, but I would Invite you to shop our store, we Wash, Sanitize, and Polish all shoes prior to listing(providing the materials allow), and with over 18,000 pair sold, and 99.9% Positive Feedback.
    In todays economy, there is nothing wrong with saving Money on your Purchases by buying used, but like one person mentioned earlier, Pray for God’s Wisdom when you make your selections. Don’t be afraid to ask for deminsions to compare with the shoes you curently have.

    Thanks again, May God Bless You All,


  22. Good Morning!

    I have been wearing used shoes for past couple of years. Wow, what a selection I have. I feel like Evits BUT I am now starting to wonder if this good thing has a really bad side to it. Recently, I have been diagnoised with spinal stenosis and was scheduled for back surgery but opted for therapy first. In addition I have achilles tendonosis. Both of these conditions are causing this healthy body to slowing turn into a bent over old lady. Mentally, this is not good either. I am thinking that much of these issues are directly related to used shoes that I have squeezed into, etc. Spend a few extra bucks (And I am on the Dave Ramsey plan) and purchase some of your OWN, i.e. Merrell, personally I “support them”.

    It is NOT worth chancing and compromising your health!

  23. If the shoe fits, wear it!

  24. Recently while at a big name kids shoe store having my kids measured I asked this very question and the answer I received (I trust their expertise) Each child has different walking patterns and children’s shoes are made to adapt to those different walking patterns, so if you put a child in hand-me-down shoes they are already adapted to that child’s walking pattern and can cause problems with your child’s own walking patters

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