Don't get me wrong, a thrift shop is an excellent place to buy shoes. I wear a size 6 1/2 and find a bonanza of high quality footwear at my local thrift shop whenever I go there. Nine West and Bass are two of the brands I picked up recently -- current styles even! Just shine 'em up and they are ready to go, helpfully broken in by someone who updates their shoe fashions once a year.
But there, right next to these gems are the knock-offs. These shoes may look good -- in fact they probably haven't been worn much. But they come from cheap mall stores (Payless is one example) and probably cost around less than $20 new. My guess is that most of them proved so uncomfortable that the hapless buyer quickly shunted them off to the thrift shop. That's where most of the cheap mall shoes that I made the mistake of buying ended up.
I don't want to disparage Payless too much. It is a great place to buy children's shoes. My kids find their shoes comfortable and fun (there are lights and sparkles aplenty) and when they wear out I can toss them and let them buy another pair.
But shoes such as these are so cheap to buy new that there is no reason to pick them up at a thrift shop. They may be priced at $5. But look a little harder and I bet you'll find a much nicer pair that originally cost $75 or more selling for $8. Now that's a deal.
This post was written as part of a series on how to thrift shop smarter. Read more on what to buy, and not to buy, at thrift stores.