The idea of purchasing second hand shoes can be off-putting to some. But what if we told you that you could get new, or like-new footwear for a fraction of the retail price! Shoes can turn up at consignment stores like Trove for a variety of reasons - occasional shoes worn once, purchased online and didn’t fit, lifestyle change, or just never got used to them. These shoes are in great condition and are ready for a new owner!

In this blog post, we will discuss what to look for when purchasing second-hand shoes, how to clean and care for them, and some tips for consigning shoes you are ready to part with!

Buying Used Footwear

When shopping for used footwear, the first thing you will want to look for is the condition. This will tell you a lot about how much these shoes have been worn by their previous owner, how much life is left in them, and how comfortable they will be for you. Inspect the shoes for wear by looking at the body of the shoe; are there deep creases in the leather or discolouration? The heel of the shoe will tell you a lot. Does the heel sit flush on the floor or are there places where the rubber has worn down? High heels will typically have layers of wood and a piece of rubber that comes in contact with the ground - check to see if that rubber has worn off. If you can see the wood, that’s a sign that these shoes are heavily-worn. The sole will also show wear. Painted soles will start to wear off after the first wear and gradually continue to wear off from there. Imprints and indentation from small rocks will indicate that the shoes were worn outside.

Shoes carry a person’s entire body weight and that will result in imprints left in the shoes. These imprints will be exaggerated by how the person walks and their posture, so worn shoes have the potential to be molded to the shape of the original owner's feet. That doesn’t make these shoes a lost-cause. If this causes you discomfort when wearing the shoe, a simple fix is to replace the insole (if the rest of the shoe is in good shape).

Lastly, it’s important to know which part of the shoe can be repaired or replaced and how much it costs to do so. The rubber part of the heel can be replaced for around $20 and a full heel + sole replacement around $60. Replacing the insole is also a simple and effective way to make the shoe fit and feel like new - and can be done at home! On the other hand, deep scuffs on metallic leather are next to impossible to buff out or repair, damage to suede is tricky to fix, and deep creases and tears in leather are unfortunately rarely worth fixing. Knowledge is power and knowing what can be repaired and replaced can help you assess if something is worth salvaging!

Cleaning and Caring for Footwear

When you bring your second hand shoes home, you will want to clean them well to remove any bacteria that may be living in them. Use warm water and a damp cloth and wipe the shoes inside and out. To disinfect the inside, make a solution of tea-tree oil, rubbing alcohol, and water. Tea tree oil has powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a fantastic and safe cleaner. It is also a great deodorizer. Rubbing alcohol is not safe to use on leather and suede so be sure to only use it on fabric and nylon.

Caring for Fabric/Canvas/Nylon Shoes
The simplest category of shoes to care for are those made of fabric or synthetic materials. Depending on the make-up, canvas shoes (like Toms, Keds, or Converse) can be tossed directly into the washing machine. Be sure to set the spin to low or delicate as to not damage your machine. Set your shoes in a well-ventilated, sunny spot to dry.

To wash by hand, make a sudsy solution of water and either dish soap or detergent. You can use a nail brush to scrub the shoes inside and out. Rinse well and let it air dry.

Caring for Leather Shoes
Shoe care becomes a bit more labour intensive with leather and other natural materials - but so worthwhile. When cleaning the outside of the shoe, avoid anything too abrasive. You can use a microfibre towel but the best and most economical cloth is a good old cotton t-shirt cut up into squares. Use this cloth with a small amount of water to remove any dirt or salt from the surface of the shoe.

Leather shoes can be an investment piece in your closet and are worth the elbow grease to care for. Once you’ve wiped the outside of the shoe, you can clean it with a leather cleaner. Let them air dry and coat the entire shoe with leather conditioner and polish to keep shoes looking their best. The good news is that you shouldn’t need to do this more than once a week for your daily shoes and even less often for your occasional shoes. Store shoes in a dust bag or canvas tote to keep them in good shape.

Caring for Suede Shoes
Suede is notorious for being a pain to care for. They scuff easily and even WATER stains them. Our number one tip for caring for suede is to get a suede brush. For day-to-day care, brush the suede in the same direction to remove dirt and unmatte the suede. For small scuffs, use a back and forth motion to lift the fibres of the suede. For deeper scuffs, you can use a rubber pencil eraser.

For water and salt stains, rub the stained area with a small amount of a solution of two parts water to one part vinegar with a towel. This will loosen the stain. Let it dry and come back with your suede brush to unmatte the fibres!

Consigning Footwear with Trove

Anything that comes through our consignment store goes through a rigorous inspection where we look for signs of wear. Almost everything that makes it onto the shop floor falls into one of two categories:

  • BNWT - Brand New With Tags
  • BNUC - Brand New Used Condition

Unlike thrift stores, when you shop our Trove you can trust that all the pieces we sell are in great condition and are ready to wear. That is true for footwear as well. This is the section of our shop where we are the most selective. Footwear should be in like-new condition. Like everything in our store, we prefer good name brands and in-season styles - click here to find out which season we are accepting right now.