Reader Sara wrote in with this question:
“What advice can you offer for buying gym shoes for my quickly-growing daughter? I’m not comfortable buying used, and cheaper options from Target and Walmart seem to fall apart in a matter of weeks.”
I decided to post this question to the MoneySavingMom Facebook page so that everyone could chime in! All of you came up with some GREAT tips for saving on kids’ shoes, and I thought I’d combine and share them here in one place!
27 Secrets to Saving on Growing Kids’ Shoes:
1. Ask grandparents to buy shoes instead of more toys. If your kids have grandparents who can afford it and want to bless your children with lots of extras, politely ask them if they could opt to purchase shoes instead of an abundance of toys and extras.
2. Try online discounted shoe stores. You can often get steep discounts on brand-name shoes when you shop online at stores such as 6pm, Zappos, Shoes.com, and Shoeshow.com. You can even try the daily deal site Zulily, which often has deals on kids’ brand-name clothing and shoes.
3. Buy new brand-name shoes on eBay. Even if you want to stay away from used shoes, don’t rule out eBay! You can often find brand new pairs of shoes at majorly discounted prices on eBay if the timing is right.
4. Shop the outlet stores. You can score great savings at outlet stores for athletic shoe brands: Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Skechers, and more. Many outlet stores often have buy one, get one deals that make each pair half-price! Consider buying one size for now and a size up for later.
5. Be on the lookout for Amazon Athletic Shoes Sales. Amazon frequently has their Deal of the Day on athletic shoes where you can get at least 40% off regular prices on name brands. (We post these when we see them!)
6. Check out the Surprize by Stride Rite shoes at Target. Multiple readers said this Surprize brand holds up better than other name-brand shoes, and they’re only $30 a pair!
7. Kohl’s Kohl’s Kohl’s. If you’re a deal seeking mama, you know how deal-friendly Kohl’s is! You can frequently get killer deals on shoes at Kohl’s when you combine a sale with coupons — either online or in-store. Just keep an eye out for price drops and coupons. (And don’t forget about Kohl’s cash, too!)
8. Be aware of what material shoes are made of. Certain materials last longer than others when it comes to shoes. Supposedly, man-made materials fall apart more easily. It might be something to consider if you have a child who blows through shoes frequently.
9. Don’t forget to use Ebates when you shop online. Ebates offers a percentage back as a rebate on your purchase –usually between 3% and 10%. If you’re already going to be making the online purchase, you might as well get a little kickback, too!
10. Try Dick’s Sporting Goods for brand-name shoes. They often offer some of the lowest prices on brand names like Under Armour, Saucony, Nike, and more. One reader said she exclusively shops there and can almost always get her kids’ shoes for under $30 each!
11. Don’t forget about outdoor stores. Although REI can be overpriced, they often have clearance and garage sales (if you’re an REI member). They also offer great deals on holiday weekends and often send out coupons if you’re on their mailing list. You can get quality outdoor adventure brands at a steep discount if you know when to shop! Sierra Trading Post is also a fantastic option, as their prices are significantly lower than REI.
12. Try shopping at Academy Sports + Outdoors. One reader said that at her store, the shoes are organized by price. Start at the bottom where the prices are the lowest, and work your way up until you find a shoe that works!
13. Shop at Nordstrom Rack. This is the discounted, outlet version of Nordstrom. They have amazingly low prices on all kinds of brand name items, including shoes!
14. Let kids choose their shoes, within reason. Obviously this will come with a price cap and guidance from the parents, but allowing kids to have a say in the shoes they buy adds a degree of responsibility — which probably means they’ll be careful to take better care of them and make them last a little longer!
15. Buy a size up. Often times, shoes will fit just as well a half size up, which will make them last a bit longer. One reader even suggested using a shoe insert to make it fit better until the child grows fully into it.
16. Shop the shoe racks at Ross, TJMaxx, and Marshall’s. These discount stores are known for amazing prices on brand name items, including shoes! The best part is that they are organized by size, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for at a glance.
17. Shop at Meijer with rewards. Did you know that Meijer sells name brand shoes?! They sometimes even have buy one, get one for $1 sales! You can also use Meijer rewards to further sweeten your savings.
18. Think out of season. As with anything, you’ll often find the best deals on items when they are out of season. Buy shoes a size up for your children when they are on major out-of-season markdown, and put them away for later! Many readers said that department store clearance sections are great for this!
19. Try on styles and track prices. If you’re nervous to buy online, go shopping and have your child try on various sizes and styles. Write down the ones that fit best, and then start tracking the prices online. Wait for a good sale and buy when the price is right! (This works really well on Amazon with their price tracker!)
20. Don’t forget about classic shoe stores. Stores like Shoe Carnival, Rack Room Shoes, and Famous Footwear specialize in shoes and often run all kinds of amazing sales you can take advantage of — like buy one, get one half off! Many of these stores also have rewards programs and/or coupons.
21. Check shoe store growth policies. Some shoe stores will give you a free pair of shoes if your child outgrows the shoes in a certain time frame.
22. Shop the online Joe’s New Balance Outlet. If you prefer New Balance brand or you’re wanting to see if New Balance might be a great brand for your child, consider buying online at the Joe’s New Balance Outlet. They offer incredible markdowns, many of which are hard to believe! We frequently post these deals, because they are just SO good!
23. Shop at Burlington Coat Factory. Who knew that Burlington sold shoes? I certainly didn’t! Apparently you can get GREAT discounts on shoes there! Just another option to keep in mind.
24. Find the brand that lasts the longest for your child. No two brands of shoes are made exactly the same way, and different brands will work better for different feet. Your kid may blow through New Balance in a month, but be able to wear Adidas for a year. And another kid may have feet that fit best with Saucony. It’s important to figure out which brand lasts the longest for your child and stick with it.
25. Make shoes a priority and buy other things secondhand. Shoes need to fit well, because they support a child’s feet — and ultimately their hips, knees, ankles, and more. It’s important to find a pair of shoes that are comfortable and fit well, especially if they’re running around at recess or playing sports. If you have to increase the budget a little bit in order to not skimp in this area, maybe consider buying other things secondhand (like clothing, toys, electronics, and more).
26. Be on the lookout at Sam’s or Costco. We often think of these warehouse stores as only having bulk food and household items, but they also have all kinds of other items — including shoes! If you have a membership to Sam’s Club or Costco, be on the lookout for great deals on shoes.
27. Give off-brands a try. Many, many readers commented that they love some of the off-brand sneakers at Kmart, Payless, Target, and more. You never know how a brand will work for your child until you try it! It may pay off in the long run.
Thanks again to all of the MoneySavingMom Facebook followers for sharing these tips!