Make a Mint Selling Busted Old Shoes

For a while, we've known that you can find a second home (and make some sweet, sweet money) for gently used clothing on eBay. But what about those shoes that are so worn that they wouldn't be able to make it through quality control at the Salvation Army? You know the pair: The leather is wrinkled, the lining is coming up in parts, and they've been worn barefoot enough times that there's nothing you can do about the smell.

It turns out that there is actually a market for well worn shoes on eBay, with most pairs selling for around $30, but some going as high as $60.

You're probably thinking: why would anyone pay that much money for old shoes? The answer is that it technically fits under the foot fetish umbrella. Because of this, there is an undersaturated market for "well worn" shoes and socks on eBay.

Is it weird?

That's a choice for every woman to make on her own. When I mentioned it to my boyfriend, he was seriously freaked out and said, "Please don't do that." For my part, I don't have a problem with it at all.

As a woman I walk through the world knowing that I have no control over how men react to my body. When I walk down the street, I get catcalled without any invitation. If I post a flattering picture on Facebook, I don't know what some Bozo is going to do with it at home. In some ways, I see it as an opportunity to take back some agency. At least I know. At least it is my choice. Also, I don't have to be there.

Selling used socks and shoes is a great way to earn some extra cash while cleaning out your closet. These are the items that would usually head straight to the landfill. Shoes and clothing can be difficult to recycle, and this way they can find a second home where someone will love them, like really love them.

I’m interested, how do I start?

Before you list your items, it is advisable to check out the market. Head over to eBay and type in "Well Worn Women's Shoes" to see what is currently listed. At first glance, you're going to be seeing dollar signs because some of these listings have very high price tags. That doesn't necessarily mean that yours will sell for that price.

To get a realistic sense of what you can get for your shoes, filter the search to show you only "Sold Listings." This will show you the list and sale prices, so that you can price your items competitively and model listings off those that were most successful.

One thing is universal in all these listings, you want to include your feet in the pictures. Grab the nail polish because buyers are looking to see a little toe.

If you want to score a quick $30, the listings are more casual. There are lots of ballet flats (what a great way to retire your work shoes) with feet awkwardly positioned near or kind-of in the shoes. Sometimes a seller will just throw in the compulsory foot pic with no relation to the shoes.

If you're looking for the big bucks and shoot for a profit of $60 or more, the listings are going to take a little more work. These postings have a style that is more in line with a traditional foot fetish aesthetic. Photographs are of long, stocking-clad legs and feet in pin-up pumps.

Something to keep in mind: eBay does not love that it's become a home for this quasi-fetish market. Their policies require that all items sold on eBay should be clean, and as you may have gathered, that's not what buyers are looking for in the well-worn shoe market. The way that sellers have decided to cope with this is to add a sentence at the end of the product description to say that the products will be cleaned according to eBay's guidelines. eBay allows the listings to stay up, and everyone pretends that the shoes will be cleaned prior to being shipped to the buyer.

My Feet Aren’t Sexy, They’re Dirty

Worry not, stinky-toed ladies, there's a niche within this niche for you. Head on over to "Well Worn Women's Socks." The listings there are far from the traditional "sexy feet" variety. Instead, it's mostly athletic socks, photographed on the wearer's feet.

Most listings sell between $19 to $30, but the highest price of recently sold socks is a whopping $100 Yes, you read that right. $100 for a pair of old athletic ankle socks with the description "worn, stained, toe prints, with strong odor & hardened crust in toe & heel area."

How did the seller achieve such a high price for her putrid socks? Well, there was a little more work involved. In the detailed description, the seller offers this further incentive. "Every time you place a bid I will send you a real-time pic of me wearing them! Whether I'm at work, in the car (parked! :), exercising, out walking around or at home!" The seller promises to send a pic, even if you're outbid and there's no cap on the amount of times that you can bid.

The final result? 24 bids, ending at $10. That's one pair of socks (and 24 pictures) for $100. Once you factor in the photos, there's more sweat equity involved, but the legwork in that area can be reduced by reusing photos for each new bidder.

If you're looking to sell socks, the words you will want to remember are "soiled," "stiff," "crusty," and "smelly." This is your opportunity to play up how gross your socks are, but remember always to add, "will be cleaned in accordance with eBay policy" so that your post doesn't get taken down.