Refreshing your rotation: A beginner’s guide to selling your old kicks (and making room for new ones)
With the holidays fast approaching, you might want to make some room in your closet for new sneakers. It never hurts to update your collection, especially when you can sell your old ones for some useful gift-buying money.
Professional organizer Tidy Tova offers this advice: “It’s important to keep a balance between what you own and how much space you have. Take advantage of the second-hand market and sell some kicks! It’s a great way to make some cash and live in harmony with your space.”
Selling used sneakers might seem daunting, but this is your step-by-step guide on how to make the most of the pairs you’re ready to ship.
PICKING YOUR KICKS
Selling pre-worn sneakers isn’t about getting rid of your beaters and expecting someone to pay top dollar for them. The sneakers which are most likely to sell secondhand are:
- Rare or limited editions (model/color)
- Never worn / tags on
- Comes in the original box
- Little to no signs of wear
This isn’t to say that other sneakers aren’t worth selling, but you’re more likely to find a buyer if you can tick some of those boxes.
When deciding which ones to let go, consider how you would answer questions. Do you have:
- Multiple pairs of the same model or color?
- Pairs you have never or hardly worn, but had for a long time?
- Sneakers that don’t fit you properly?
- Models that are hard to find?
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MARKETPLACE
There are many platform options, but when starting out it’s best to stick with the big ones because that’s where the most buyers are.
eBay is where you find hidden gems at bargain prices. The savviest buyers use this tried-and-tested site, where you can list items for auction, or set a price with “Buy Now.”
It’s also a good idea to have your offers open, in case someone is willing to take them off your hands quickly — you can always say no.
eBay takes 10% of the final sale value, plus additional fees if you choose premium listing options (but you don’t need to).
Depoppers are knowledgeable and hard negotiators. They know the true value of items, so unlike eBay where you often come across a bargain, Depop will most likely sell for an appropriate price, which is good for sellers like you.
Depop takes 10% of final sale value with no hidden or tiered fees.
StockX is a little more intimidating, and you won’t find beaters on here. This is where buyers search for the pair they couldn’t get their hands on in retail, and hope someone is selling them. If you have a pair of (ideally) unworn, tags on, in box sneakers, this is the place.
There are two ways to sell on StockX: you either list an Ask i.e. the price you are willing to sell for, and hope it matches a buyer’s Bid, or you can list as Sell Now, which is a non-negotiable number.
StockX charges a 3% processing fee, plus anywhere between 9.5-8% transaction fee (min. $7) depending on how many sneakers you have sold.
Consignment – For the rare pairs
There is also the consignment option if you have something really, really special. You get paid only if and when the item sells, and most retailers offer an 80/20 split. This is a far higher commission than the online platforms above, however, they do all the work for you, and the selling price will be closest to market value.
TAKING QUALITY PHOTOS
Pictures of your sneakers are the most important thing. Mutual trust and respect is key, so your visuals must be an honest representation of your goods, otherwise you are misleading potential buyers and undermining community marketplaces. For example, if you have a scratch or stain, show it. If the soles are worn, show them. Most of the time there will be someone interested, as long as you’re candid.
Before taking any photos, and I can’t stress this enough, clean your sneakers! You’d be surprised how many dirty shoes are listed when the owner can’t be bothered to put in the elbow grease. Sneaker cleaning products are ideal and don’t forget to scrub the soles.
There are multiple angles expected from sneaker listings, and you can always add a short video. If you have the box, absolutely put the sneaker on top and make this the main photo. Take a look at the examples below, along with this list of angles you should be capturing:
- Sides (both sneakers, top to toe)
- Outside soles
- From above
- Inside sole
- Close-up on details e.g. stitching, materials
- Size label
- Screenshot listed on retail site if possible, showing original retail price.
Along with the photos, the title is the first thing buyers will see and search for. The formula is simple: Brand – Model – Color – Size – Condition – RRP.
For instance: “Nike Air Force 1 White – US 10/EU 44 – Worn Once RRP $100.” If it’s a women’s fit, make sure to include that too.
You want as much relevant detail in there as possible, thinking about potential search terms. If it’s a rare color or model, you can always add something like, ‘Hard to find’ or ‘Limited edition’.
WRITING AN ACCURATE & PERSONAL DESCRIPTION
You’ve hooked them in with your title, they’ve scrolled through the photos, and now they’re reading your description.
You’re unlikely to be the only one selling your particular sneakers, so you have to stand out. Think of the copy as what a salesperson might say in a store — that’s how you want to come across.
Firstly, the details you have to include:
- Brand, color and model. Use the exact colorway description if you can e.g. University Red, Safari etc. because this will enable accurate searches.
- Sizing in US/EU/UK, because buyers could be from anywhere.
- Condition e.g. New with tags (NWT), New without tags (NWOT), Like New, Worn Once, Hardly worn, Used in good condition, Used with signs of wear. If there are specific marks, call these out e.g. “Small stain on toe, please see photos for more.”
- With original box (if you have it.)
- Materials: nubuck suede, leather, mesh etc.
If you can find your sneaker listed by the brand or retailer, it can be time efficient to copy parts of the official description, especially when it comes to materials and colors.
Secondly, these are the details which will personalise your description:
- Why you’re selling them: too big/small, closet clear-out, don’t wear enough.
- Who they would work for: To add bright colors to your rotation.
- Outfit suggestions: These look great with sweats for a cosy look.
Add in anything else you think is relevant – after all, you’re selling yourself as much as the sneakers.
PRICING THEM RIGHT
Even if you follow all of the previous steps, if your price isn’t right, the sneakers won’t move. Pricing comes with experience, but here are some recommendations:
- Research if your model is being sold elsewhere and use this as a rough guide. Color and size affect pricing, so searching for as close to yours as possible is best.
- The most important factor is condition. The closest to new, the closest to retail you can list. But remember, they’re still secondhand so don’t expect market rate. If there is a mark/stain then reduce your asking price further — think how much you would reasonably spend if you were the buyer.
- The platform choice also makes a difference. For an eBay auction, start at the lowest possible price you would be happy to sell for. People will likely bid above this, but at least you won’t be disappointed if it goes for the list price. Psychologically, buyers will be more interested when they see a lower number.
- However on Depop, most buyers will message you to drive down the price. Therefore, set the amount a little higher to allow room for negotiation.
- Don’t forget shipping costs, which you can easily look up from USPS or couriers. Buyers will factor this into the overall cost.
You can always adjust the price so play around and see where you get the most interest. Remember that items can take time to sell, so if you’re in a hurry, list lower.
SOLD! NOW WHAT?
The selling process may involve communication with potential buyers. They might send you an offer, which you can choose to accept, negotiate or reject. Or they might ask questions such as, ‘Do you ship to this country?’ Replying quickly and in a friendly way will make it more likely to close the deal.
Once you’ve made your sale, it’s a classy touch to send a thank you message informing them of when you’ll be sending the item. It’s best to ship the same or next day so your buyer receives it speedily. Make sure they’re safely packed with the address clear and large.
All of this is important for your rating, which dictates how successful of a seller you will be in the future. Both the star rating and written reviews go a long way to reassure potential buyers that you’re trustworthy.
If you follow these steps then you should have no problem making some extra space and cash for the holidays.
Bonus Option: Donate Your Kicks
However, if you’d prefer to get rid of your sneakers and help others while doing it, here’s a list of charities and organizations you can donate worn sneakers to instead:
Nicola Davies is a born and bred Londoner who used to live in New York. She is a brand strategist who enjoys writing about music, sneakers and fashion.