For most people, buying used shoes of any kind is a line they just won’t cross. Luckily for me, I’m not most people, and I buy used shoes all the time. Today, though, my focus is used boots - doesn’t really matter what kind.

Everybody loves a good boot. It’s easy to find a pair of high quality American or European made ankle boots.  Just hop on the website of any fancy schmancy retailer and take a look at what boot trend is in fashion for men and head down to your thrift shop and pick them up.

So, let’s talk more in depth about boot shopping. Cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, work boots - if they’re in good enough shape and a noteworthy brand or style, I’ll go for it. With most things, though, there are tips and tricks on how to make sure you’re not ripping yourself off in your thrift store footwear adventures. So here are a few of my top tips on shopping for this niche:

  • Nice-looking shoes, but no brand associated with them? That’s usually a pretty reliable sign of low quality. Put them down and keep looking.
  • Pay attention to the material of the boots. If you’re looking at cowboy boots, the traditional material for the uppers is (duh) cowhide leather. Cowhide is durable, attractive, and breathes well, and it is relatively affordable. For more fashion-forward boots, there are a number of other options, such as snakeskin and any of several types of ostrich leather. There are usually some boots are made of synthetic materials, but most of these are of poor quality.
  • Do yourself a favor and don’t buy boots with actual holes in them, as holes in the leather are difficult to fix. Even if you fix the holes, the boot is likely to develop more holes soon. Scuffs are usually fine; just clean it and use a good leather conditioner and the correct color polish. If there are problems with the heel or sole, but the boot is otherwise good quality, just have the boot re-soled (if you’re really invested…).

So, all that being said, where do I buy? You never would’ve guessed - but I check out all the normal spots for boots. Thrift shops, vintage stores, yard sales, and the occasional online site.