First off, a disclaimer of sorts. I am a grown woman who knew exactly what I was doing. I knew no woman in her right mind would buy trashed shoes on eBay and there was only one type of person who would want them. And I knew what they would be doing with them. So, let’s proceed with the story. UPDATE: This post is a taster for a book I wrote called 10 Totally Legal But Morally Questionable Ways I Made Money Online, which you can download from Amazon now.
My step-son, Kenny, has his own eBay shop. He sells everything, from DVDs to collectable coins and bank notes to…anything really! One time Kenny and his wife told me a story about what happened when they sold a pair of old shoes. They immediately got a message from someone who asked if the shoes smelled. Their reply was something like the shoes were in wearable condition and cleaned to meet eBay regulations. The potential buyer lost interest. He only wanted them if they smelled. We all had a good laugh and that was that.
Fast forward to 2017. I am broke. I have no income, raging sciatica and a bag full of pretty shoes I’ll probably never wear again thanks to their skyscraper heels. My Carers Allowance has been withheld for most of 2017 and I only got paid four days before Christmas. I am scared about the future and whether we can continue to make ends meet. I’ve heard plenty of stories about women making money online through selling their trashed shoes (see this article and this forum thread) so I seriously consider jumping on the bandwagon and listing my “well-worn shoes” on eBay, even though none of them have been worn that often (I live in Dr Martens) and I’m pretty sure they smell alright. It’s just an idea until one night I get a message from an account on Twitter with a default profile pic. A man called Chris randomly gets in touch and asks if I will sell him my shoes. He says he’ll pay a lot of money. I say I’ll think about it.
I asked myself a lot of questions. How will the money be exchanged? How much can I make? Does the buyer get my address? How will my husband feel about it? What if this person is involved in a violent crime and leaves my shoes and DNA at the scene? Ok, so maybe it’s just me who thinks along those lines but it’s a valid question nevertheless. The most important question is, how will I feel about myself if I do this? I’m pretty open-minded. I don’t judge other people’s sexual preferences but I did once make one of my characters obsessed with feet because I wanted to make him less sexy in my head. It worked. (Also, please buy my book! And yes, that’s an affiliate link, but it’s to my own product, so you know I’m gonna make money from it anyway)
I needed answers to my questions, so I talked it over with my husband. Then I investigated Chris online, my potential buyer, and saw that he had been making payments to a dominatrix on Twitter and all he wanted in return for these payments was to be told how pathetic he was. I’m sitting there gobsmacked as I read through her Twitter feed. Surely this stuff only happens in bad 1980s pornos? Well, apparently not. It happens on Twitter in 2018 and is there for all the world to see.
I told Chris I would sell him the manky old slippers I was about to throw away. I’d decided £50 was fine. All he had to do was send me the money and his address and I’d post them out, in a zip-lock bag to retain any scent, even though they don’t actually smell too bad. He vanished from Twitter, having been reported by someone. Neither I, nor the dominatrix, were impressed. Since my private sale had fallen through, I took the idea to eBay instead.
This is where it gets both amusing and disgusting. My own opinion varies depending on what mood I’m in. I listed slippers, boots and stilettos. And just for a laugh, a pair of manky old tights with several snags in the legs. I wanted to see what I could get away with. Within a few minutes, my views for each item were into double figures. Within an hour, my inbox was full of messages to answer. The watch count for them was rising. I was satisfied that this was going to be profitable and got to work on answering the messages.
Now, the description for each item, after describing the size, colour, type etc, went something like, “well-worn, will be cleaned to meet eBay regulations before sending, any questions please ask.” So there wasn’t really a lot to ask me, you’d think. Except, they always found yet another question, yet another way of continuing the dialogue. And when they’d asked everything they could about the product, they either started chatting and trying to get to know me or they started the dirty talk – which obviously earned them a deaf ear.
One chap gave me his email address. He asked me if the boots would be cleaned before sending. Sensing he didn’t want them cleaned, I said that was up to him. His response was, “I’d love to be told to do that myself.” I passed my phone to my husband and asked him how I should respond. I’ve never seen Alex make the face he did then, which was somewhere between a cringe and a giggle. He didn’t give me any guidance on the matter so my response was, “Well, make sure you’re the highest bidder or I won’t be telling you to do anything.” He wasn’t, by the way. He didn’t bid at all.
I was inundated with requests for pictures of my feet which I declined. I was asked if I would be selling panties or socks or stockings. And then one man actually pushed me over the edge. It was then that I decided this wasn’t a laugh any more and I was getting seriously pissed off.
Buyer: Do you do anything with them before selling?
Me: They’ll be cleaned to meet eBay’s regulations before selling as stated in the description.
Buyer: Do you do anything else with them?
Me: I’ll place them in a zip-lock bag to prevent damage in transit.
Buyer: Anything else?
Me: Well, what do you want me to do with them?
Buyer: I want you to make them wet.
Me: *sits there, for a moment naively thinking that if I wash them they’ll get wet, but that means they’ll be heavier and I’ll have to bump up the postage before sending – then realise that he means he wants them smeared in vaginal fluids*
Me: You’ll have to do that yourself.
So, contrary to what you read in the press, this is basically what happens when you try to sell shoes online. Despite receiving lots of small bids, I was unlikely to make more than a tenner on anything so I removed all but a pair of Dr Marten heels before the end of the auction. I let them run until the end and sold them to a very formal and appropriate man in Ipswich who described them in his positive feedback as a “lovely purchase.” To make more than a few quid, I suspect I would have had to court the fetishists and lead them on. There would have to be pictures of feet exchanged, engagement in dirty talk and bodily fluids smeared on the shoes.
My own experience makes me question the validity of the stories I’ve read online, apparently written by women who have sold their own shoes and made a good living doing it, or at least enough pocket money to make it worthwhile. I don’t think they’re true. Either that, or they’ve got some really sexy bunions going on. I did have a brief but pleasant exchange of messages with a man who was interested in buying tights. When I removed them he was disappointed and I explained my reasons for backing out. He admitted that not a lot of women sell their shoes online so when a new seller comes on the scene, men all want to get to know them. He then explained that most of these men aren’t willing to pay much and are more interested in trying to get the women to talk dirty.
So, for anyone who is broke and thinking of selling their shoes, by all means go ahead, but be aware that you will not be making that much money and you’re expected to do a lot to earn it, perhaps more than you’re willing to do. It sounds like money for old rope and the women who write about it online will have you believe that it’s easy cash, but, in short, they’re lying. (But if you’re in the market to buy some trashed shoes, I still have loads to get rid of. Just keep it formal and appropriate in your correspondence!)