Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lesson Learned: Buying Running Shoes On the Cheap

As part of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, Mrs. Frugalwoods has encouraged all participants to exercise the three-day rule when making a purchase: if you see something you think you want to buy, wait three days before pulling out your wallet. That way, you're more likely to purchase what you actually need rather than throwing away money on a mere impulse. You have time to weigh the pros and cons.

I'm all in on this challenge, but I went into it the month of June with the reluctant realization that I need new running shoes. And that's one thing to know about me, because it's an important part of who I am: running is my personal form of meditation. Some people do yoga, some get acupuncture, some go to church or temple or other places of worship... I run. My ability to hit the trails has a direct, tangible influence on the quality of my life. Running is as close to religion as I get.

Church.
I currently own two pairs of running shoes. Pair number one: La Sportive Raptors that I bought at a deep discount (don't get me wrong - they were still too expensive for our budget) while working at REI a few months back:

The Raptors are amazing... when I'm hiking.
As running shoes? They're questionable.
They fit my feet like gloves and provide amazing stability on rocky surfaces. However. As fantastic as they are for walking and hiking, they're absolutely terrible (for me, anyway) for running. I'm convinced they're contributing to my persistent IT band problem. 

Pair number two: My beloved Hokas, which I've owned since October of 2016. Do they look like fluffy pink marshmallow space shoes? Yes, but my feet and knees covet them. I've put in the miles on these babies, and it shows. I mean, it really shows. I'm holding them together with duct tape:

I'd say I've made the most of these shoes.
Bottom line: I need new running shoes. And yes, I would classify this as an actual need. 

As every runner well knows, kicks aren't cheap. The Raptors go for as much as $130, while the Hokas are listed for $90 or so. At those prices, new shoes just aren't happening - even after thinking about it for well over three days.

I decided that what I really needed to do was look for pre-owned shoes. Not tattered, stinky ones with holes in the uppers, but mostly-clean, gently-used ones that have been discarded by wealthier folks unhappy with the color of the laces. But here's another thing to know about me: I hate shopping, and I especially hate shopping around. Shopping around is hard. Thrifting? Heard of it; no idea how to actually do it effectively. Couponing makes me want to cry. (I know, I know... Sorry. I'll probably come around.) I'd rather take a nap. 

But according to my knee, I also really, really need shoes that a) don't hurt me and b) don't sport holes large enough to swallow up entire pinecones.

A friend recommended eBay as a good first place to look. It sounded completely overwhelming at first, but I reasoned that at least shopping online didn't involve putting on decent clothes and talking to salespeople (third thing about me: I hate small talk). So I dove in, checked the eBay running shoe inventory, and... guess what?

It turns out that eBay is The Land Of Perfectly Good Second-Hand Running Shoes Selling For a Fraction of the Original Price. I saw decent-looking (read: dirty but structurally sound) options for as little as $8. And although I was initially concerned about getting conned by stealthy gross shoe dealers, most of the sellers had hundreds of outstanding reviews and flexible return policies.

After diligent searching and comparison shopping, I found a pair of Hoka Bondi 4's (retail price: $90 or thereabouts), bid on them for $35, and... I won! With three-day shipping, these babies landed on my doorstep for a grand total of $45, well within our budget:

Welcome home, my puffy darlings.
There's a little dirt on the soles. Other than that, they look brand new. I tested them out tonight. They fit like a dream and feel like clouds. My IT band is thrilled.

Lesson learned: Taking a chance on second-hand, even when it comes to shoes, can be well worth it if you're willing to shop around a little bit and vet the sellers. If tonight's run is any indication of the future, I don't see myself paying full price for new running shoes ever again.

So tell me: What high-quality product have you been able to purchase second-hand at a fraction of the original price, and where did you find it?

3 comments:

  1. I (used) to run in Merrell's minimalist barefoot shoes. Hoka's were also recommended as I need to run flat. Otherwise my knees are in major pain. Great score on the shoes.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I've heard great things about the Merrells! I was skeptical about the Hokas and initially refused to try them out because of their space shoe look... but now I'm hooked. They feel so good, even if they look funny.

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  2. The Mrs. loves to get second-hand clothing and stuff for our children. Yesterday, she scored free clothes, free diapers and a little baby play set for 10% of the original price (which was 80 bucks new! for a playset!)
    I got my running GPS watch second-hand (Garmin 220) for less than half of the retail price, I earn vouchers while running so I can get new (yes new) clothes for free.

    That said, I do buy quality stuff for full price when I know I'm going to use it a lot. Never thought about running shoes as I didn't expect to be able to get near-new shoes.

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