$100-$200 is how much you’d usually pay for a pair of today’s basketball shoes if we’re talking retail. But for those who aren’t as familiar with the sneaker market in general, what if I told you that there are ways to (almost) ALWAYS snatch a pair that you want for cheaper? Let’s break down how to buy basketball shoes for CHEAP.
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Here’s What You’ll Learn
- Should We EVER Pay Full Retail?
- How to Track Down a Shoe for Cheap
- Tips on Saving BIG When Shopping for Shoes
- There Are Still Good Buys for Retail
- Your Shoe Knowledge is Just Getting Started
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
From my years of buying hoop shoes and testing them, I dedicate this article to give a no B.S., practical guide on all you need to know about saving every penny when it comes to snatching shoes. Basketball shoes in particular but sneakers in general.
Regardless of your experience in the game, your budget, or anything else, there’s some stuff worthy of knowing. I’ll first discuss the phenomenon of the retail price and should you ever pay it, I’ll also give you what I think is the best plan of attack when it comes to buying a pair you really want.
And for the rest of you, I put together some of the most important tips & methods to save BIG when shopping for sneakers in general.
Lastly, not everyone’s equal, so I’m sure some of you are completely fine with paying retail and getting a shoe when you want, how you want it. That’s why I’ve also compiled some of my best budget guides for various price ranges at retail.
Buckle up and get ready to teach your wallet a thing or two!
I. SHOULD WE EVER PAY FULL RETAIL?
Hear me out before running to a nearby shoe outlet
Personally, I’ve never been a clear candidate on either of the sides (paying full retail or always tracking down a deal). I’ve done both PLENTY of times.
While some of the more hardcore sneakerheads all about collecting, securing a good price, and reselling would scream “RETAIL IS FOR DUMMIES”, I don’t think it’s always as simple as that.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GET A SHOE FOR RETAIL
I do believe there are definitely cases where it’s actually best to grab a pair at retail while you can.
Say I want a pair that just dropped but it’s surrounded by Nikey’s usual “limited stock” shenanigans. You know what I mean. A lot of the times that’s false and you can literally grab that shoe a few months later online or at an outlet for two-thirds of the price tag.
The whole “high demand” mentality is fabricated by the brands to hype up a shoe and get people to click Order right when the shoe launches. Most of the time.
A WORRYING EXAMPLE
But sometimes a particular shoe can actually be tough to get due to certain circumstances, such as certain events happening in the world that surround the sneaker.
Let’s say I want a Kobe 6 Protro in the ‘Grinch’ colorway. The shoe originally retailed at $180.
How much does the shoe cost now? Well, don’t even try without at least ~$250-$300 in your pocket for the latest version.
After Kobe’s passing and the recent controversies surrounding his wife Vannesa and Kobe’s deal with Nike, the prices for ALL Kobe shoes have literally skyrocketed. There are barely any pairs in stock at your usual retailers and getting your favorite Grinches in the OG 2010 version can now cost you up to a thousand bucks.
Yes, a grand for a pair of shoes. All because the resellers have taken advantage of the circumstances around the shoe and decided to profit off it. It’s disgusting and unfortunate, I know, but you have to know stuff like this.
So for cases like this one, snatching a pair at retail that you know you want and will rock for a long time is the best option. If you’re late to the party – prepare to get heartbroken.
WE CAN’T ALWAYS PREDICT, BUT WE CAN ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION
Of course, we can’t always see such things coming and prepare to track down the shoe when it drops. The best thing you can do is pay attention to what’s happening in the sports & sneaker world. Perhaps a new hoop shoe is launching and Kevin Durant or LeBron James is wearing them in the NBA Finals?
This means that the demand for that shoe might increase, so it might be a good idea to grab a pair at retail before retailers clear the stocks and other stores double the prices.
So, paying attention and knowing what’s currently sought-after will help you out a lot. There are many examples like these happening regularly and it’s up to you to digest what’s going on around the shoe and make a decision.
PAYING RETAIL IS ALL ABOUT CONVENIENCE
All in all, the main argument behind buying stuff at retail is convenience. Do you want it NOW and just the way you like it? Do you want a particular size 10.5 Wide while it’s still widely available? In those cases, I don’t see why paying retail is a bad move, especially when you can afford it.
But if don’t care about getting the latest & greatest right when it’s out and having convenient buying options before purchasing, then you need to have a look below where I’ll be explaining my process of tracking down a deal for a particular shoe.
Once again, it’s all about patience…
II. HOW TO TRACK DOWN A CERTAIN SHOE FOR CHEAP
Been wanting a particular pair but can’t afford it? Here’s a plan that will save you DIVIDENDS
First and foremost, let me tell you something VERY important. Before anything, tracking down a hoop shoe for cheap is all about TIMING.
Sounds obvious? Good. Why timing? Simple. I can confidently say that about 80% of actually great deals for most shoes I might be looking for come from either (1) picking the right time and moments to look for a sale, or
(2) being somewhat familiar with various brands’ typical patterns of when sales hit or event/situation-specific discounts surface.
WHY THE OPPORTUNITY IS HUGE FOR SNEAKERS
The same market principles happen everywhere, on the store shelves around the whole world. But all of this is ESPECIALLY huge for sneakers today.
Why? Basketball shoes and basketball merch in general, go hand-in-hand with the NBA (and various other basketball leagues) as our favorite players on Earth are rocking these kicks.
Not only that, but thousands of culture-dependent factors also drastically affect a particular shoe’s perceived value and when it drops when the next “thing” comes into play.
Because of this, the possibilities of finding literal flagships that originally went for $100’s are now sitting on the shelves or on brands’ stores for clearance. Sometimes for 30% cheaper, sometimes HALF or even a THIRD of the price.
There are still things to remember when shopping for shoes at any time, but patience and waiting ’till the right moment is what gets us the biggest UUUMPH for the money most of often.
Let me take a real example of a deal I secured not long ago and break down the process of how I tracked it down & the usual process of how to secure a bargain.
I. THE ONLINE STORES TO CHECK
Before getting into the deal-hunting stuff, let’s first discuss what are the main places to shop for good shoe deals online. I try to do my shopping online as much as possible these days (due to COVID amongst other things) and I know a lot of you do too. We’ll talk about physical stores as well though.
Brand retailers have their seasonal stock out of the picture pretty soon though, so if you can’t find it there, your typical sports retailers also have just as great deals if you know when to look. Foot Locker, Finish Line, Eastbay, DICK’s, etc.
Pretty similar to brands’ stores, the stock gets pushed out fairly quickly but you do have more options to check for the same shoe now.
Next to original retailers and popular sports/sneaker stores, nowadays it’s definitely a smart move to check StockX, GOAT, and eBay for reduced prices. Yes, StockX and GOAT might’ve gotten some slack for iffy services and questionable customer support, it’s still not just a deadstock sneaker store.
More common hoop shoe models such as a Kyrie 6 or a Curry 7 can be found waaay under retail on those places, and we’re talking about new shoes, not used pairs (which they also offer).
And of course, it never hurts to check Amazon. It’s still the biggest online marketplace ever, and even though I live outside the U.S., I’ve bought pairs of shoes on both Amazon US and Amazon UK and some STILL turned out as better deals vs. shopping at my local retailer.
Those are the main options and find success 95% of the time. You can also have a read and this article by Complex where they break down the best online stores to shop for good sneaker deals.
II. NEW-SEASON CLEARANCE IS THE JACKPOT
I’ve always thought the ‘Aunt Pearl’ release of the KD 13 was really dope. I’m not usually rocking pink (unless it’s super subtle) but these looked sooo clean to me. I’ve got them about a month ago for about 78 EUR (~$95) at my usual online retailer for hoop shoes. I live overseas but I can see the same is for the U.S.
This version (which is $10 pricier than the regular colorways) of the KD 13 is currently sitting at $107 on the Nike.com clearance store, $100 on Finish Line, $140 on GOAT, and you can snatch a new pair on eBay for as low as 60 bucks for certain sizes.
I won’t update the prices every time they change, just know that they’ll probably even lower the time you see this.
Why is a flagship signature where Nikey packs all their best tech & calls it a “premium” shoe can now be snatched literally for half the prices in some cases?
It’s simple. Clearance season has been going on. The KD 14 has already been out for a couple of months and KD is rocking them in the Playoffs. Nikey & company is trying to push out the older KD 13 to bring in new models instead (what’s currently popping).
So if you can wait ’till the next shoe in the lineup releases or close to being released, get the previous model and enjoy a beastly deal. This is where the biggest steals are made. If you’re patient and don’t care about getting your hands on a new model – this is the #1 way to get stellar prices.
III. BACK TO SCHOOL & SUMMER SEASONS
Apart from a new basketball season, the “back to school” season (September – October) and also summertime are good times to look for some deals. For back to school, You can expect similar sales & discounts from your typical stores as it’s also around the start of a new NBA season.
Early summer is also a great one. I see out-of-nowhere discounts on brand retailers at that time the most often. It’s also a time where retailers push out Autumn-early Spring stuff from the shelves, and even basketball shoes can take a hit in pricing.
The PG 4 can be snatched for 60 bucks at the moment. Before the summer season, the PG 4 was still at full retail, so it’s definitely a good idea to hunt for your desired shoe during summer, especially in the early summer season.
IV. THE SALE PATTERNS
Besides near the start of a new season, major brands also do a few more clearance sales throughout the year. Nike usually puts up 4-7 major sales per year while adidas tends to have fewer of those (along the lines of 2-4). However, I’ve noticed that they’ve become more frequent and in line with Nikey recently. Be on the lookout.
Under Armour actually has clearance sales less often than I would’ve expected when compared to Nike/adidas but it’s not a huge deal since UA kicks tend to go on drastic price cuts fairly shortly after release. Insane.
It’s pretty crazy how Nike has managed to brainwash thousands of people believing that the only thing they need on a shoe is a Swoosh. Nothing else sticks. I digress.
And of course, holidays & special days are always the jackpots for good deals, if you can still snatch a pair before someone else does. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, before-Christmas, and other days of note are the best time to look for an eye-catching price tag.
V. OUTLET STORES ARE STILL GREAT
If you can’t find an attractive deal for your desired kicks despite being patient and hunting for sales, there are always the outlets. If you’re able to visit physical stores around you – it’s as good of a time as any to start taking a look at the discount stores around you.
For people in the States, the main stores people seem to find some great, heavily discounted stuff for hoops would be Marshall’s, Ross, TJ Maxx, and of course, your brand outlet stores if you can find ’em near you (Nike Outlet Store, adidas Outlet Store, etc.).
For someone like myself who’s living overseas, I find some really cheap stuff for slightly older models at SportsDirect but I usually find really good deals over at the physical outlet stores of Nikey, adidas, sometimes Under Armour.
Definitely the option to try REGARDLESS if you can find a good deal online. You can find shoes for 50% off at times, and sometimes for even less.
VI. SOMETIMES YOU’LL HAVE TO TAKE YOUR L
Now as with all things in life, you can’t get everything you want. Remember the points I’ve talked about earlier regarding the effect the NBA and other variables have on the value of certain shoes. Some shoes will never be cheap, and some will stay even above retail no matter how much time passes.
New flagship Air Jordan shoes are always popping. If you want to get your hands on them, paying retail now as opposed to paying double later is probably a better idea. Very rarely you’ll see Air Jordans go on huge sales or find them for dirt cheap at outlets.
Or, you might be wanting a classic pair such as a LeBron 4 ‘NYC Grafitti’. Years have passed since its release and it’s still being sold for THOUSANDS. Good luck with that one.
Basically, if you’re looking for a pair but not sure if you can get a good deal on it – be sure to check its current value on the resell & deadstock markets (eBay, StockX, etc.). If it’s close to retail – you definitely have a chance.
If it still has value blown out of proportion even after several years – you’re better off giving up on that pair.
III. TIPS ON SAVING BIG WHEN SHOPPING FOR SHOES
Here are some of the tips & methods I use to (almost) always shop efficiently
So, now that you know the basic concept for tracking down a shoe you want for a good price, let’s talk about shopping for hoop shoes in general. Tracking down a particular shoe for cheap is mostly about patience.
But if you’re just shopping for a new pair right now – let me give some tips to always secure the best deal possible.
I’m sure you haven’t heard about at least some of these!
I. USE HONEY. THAT’S A MUST
Before anything, start using Honey. Seriously, there’s no downside to it. It’s a nifty little browser extension that actively scowls the internet for discount coupons and all kinds of special offers you can get on a certain store right now.
Most major retailers such as adidas, Nike, Under Armour, Finish Line, Amazon, and many more are fully supported by Honey. So let’s say you visit the Nike retailer, browse for shoes and Honey immediately lets you know that there’s an available coupon code with 15% off.
It even shows you the estimated success rate of each coupon it finds, and a lot of ’em appear to be successful. There’s no reason not to have it on at all times when shopping as it lets you know of deals that you weren’t even aware of when shoe-hunting.
You can also earn Honey Gold for shopping at your favorite stores and redeem it for gift cards. Never brought huge benefits for me since you need a good amount to redeem a $10 card but still a bonus that might help out for long-term customers.
II. ADIDAS & UA ARE FAST TO CUT IT
I know Nikey & Jordan are THE things right now (and always will be) but I want you to shift your attention over to adidas & Under Armour. If you don’t care about the brand and just want a good, reliable hoop shoe, adidas & UA products usually suffer price drops the quickest.
It’s not even fair at times – some adidas hoop shoes, including signatures, appear on the shelves of outlets just a few months or even WEEKS after launch. You can also find great deals fairly shortly after release on Amazon too.
The adidas D.O.N. Issue #2 which is currently the LATEST signature shoe from Donovan Michell, is sitting at 50-60 bucks right now. That’s a 50% cut, and you’re getting a solid signature that also lasts outdoors.
And if you’re up for a mid/lower-tier UA shoe, be aware of their Lockdown, HOVR Havoc, and Jet lines. Those go on sale QUICKLY. You’ll usually find those on discount stores for dirt cheap.
III. LESSER-KNOWN BRANDS HAVE MASSIVE DEALS
DO NOT SLEEP ON BRANDS OUTSIDE THE BIG THREE. Yes, it won’t have a Swoosh, a Jumpman, or Three Stripes on it but there are some amazing performers out there if you know where to look. And a lot of ’em usually suffer massive price cuts because there’s just no hype or demand around them. A win for the consumer.
So if you’re looking to grab a new pair of hoop shoes right now, it’s a wise idea to take a look at PEAK, Li-Ning, ANTA, or even BrandBlack. The PEAK Tony Parker TP7 is an amazing shoe that’s still fresh on my mind since I’ve recently put out a review on it.
It’s an AMAZING shoe that’s literally one of the most comfortable hoop shoes I’ve ever played in. Almost two years after it launched and I’ve just seen a pair for 40 bucks at my usual online retailer the other day. Yes, 40 bucks for a fantastic all-around performer, beastly cushion, and a premium knit build.
Check them outlets folks. And don’t be logo-dependant. It’ll save you a lot of cash.
IV. DON’T SLEEP ON TEAM MODELS
Regardless of the brand, I’d also highly recommend looking at team models. There are no signature athlete names attached to those, and they’re basically made to be accessible & affordable for teams/everyday consumers to get each season.
I’ve seen the Nike Zoom Rize for $80 on Amazon recently, I’ve also found the PUMA Clyde Hardwood for 70 bucks at my local retailer. PEAK’S Taichi hoop shoes seem to have near-zero value in my region as those are hanging around for 30-40 bucks.
Don’t sleep on the non-signature shoes!
V. BECOME A MEMBER – GET GOOD DEALS
Something a lot of people simply miss out on is becoming a member of a brand that will grant you benefits.
You can become a Nike member, join adidas’s Creator Club or sign up for UA’s Armour Club to become a part of their membership program, be active and receive rewards, including discounts & special offers for hoop shoes.
For Nike’s and adidas’s memberships, participating in certain ways like leaving product reviews, uploading photos of you rocking their product or just shopping can earn you rewards. On special days such as birthdays of note, you also get discounts & special offers which include basketball shoes.
UA’s Armour Club is only available for Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Everyone that signs up gets special day markdowns, vouchers, and discounts up to 20% for various products.
Once again – there’s literally no downside to signing up for each. Take advantage and reap the benefits no matter when you shop!
VI. PERKS OF AN AFFILIATE
This one isn’t for everyone but if you’re an aspiring affiliate marketer or looking to get started in the field, most brands’ affiliate programs include special offers, vouchers, and discounts for their affiliates that promote their product.
adidas, Nike, Under Armour and several others are partnering with certain affiliate networks and all of those are offering fairly frequent deals exclusive to affiliates. Something to think about if you’re looking to build an affiliate business/earn some cash on the side.
VII. THERE’S ALWAYS THE USED ROUTE
An obvious one, yet important to mention. If you just can’t afford a certain shoe right now despite everything, there’s always the USED market. But it doesn’t always have to mean heavily used, banged up, or looking like a shell of itself.
Sometimes a shoe is labeled as used simply because the packaging is missing and the person has worn it once or twice. But the price drop is well worth it in such a case.
eBay’s authenticity guarantee for sneakers is now a thing for some time, so the chance of securing a quality pair for cheap is even higher nowadays.
GOAT and StockX both have options to purchase a certain sneaker in used condition but based on the general reception from the people, GOAT, in particular, seems to be the most trusted option.
IV. THERE ARE STILL GOOD DEALS FOR RETAIL
If you want to get it NOW – let me show you some options that will put a smile on your face. Even at retail
I understand that some of you are completely fine with buying shoes at full retail. That’s totally normal and I’ve been doing it myself countless times. Sometimes you just want to get it NOW while your size, the preferred colorway is available
Especially when you know this one’s not getting a price cut anytime soon.
This is why I’ve put together a whole lineup of budget guides for various price ranges at retail. Since some shoes in each of my lists aren’t always the latest options, you can grab those for under retail now, so it’s a win-win either way.
Out of all the mentioned lists, my current favorites that I still hoop in are the adidas Crazy Explosive 2017, adidas Dame 7, Air Jordan 34, and the Zoom Rize 2. All from different price ranges but are all well worth it, even at their respective retail pricing. In my opinion of course.
If you want to go more in-depth, have a look at each of the guides & shoe lists below!
YOUR SHOE KNOWLEDGE IS JUST GETTING STARTED
It’s not all about the price in today’s sneaker market. More important topics with practical insight are waiting!
That takes care of the guide! I really do hope you’ve found a thing or two useful here!
However, this doesn’t mean your shoe expertise ends here.
While you can always rock with what feels or looks right to you and don’t pay too much attention, I believe that having a base level of knowledge in the shoe game will always beat a blind purchase in the long run.
One thing that’s becoming more and more clear – the price of a basketball sneaker almost never accurately represents its actual value on the court. Especially in today’s market. You can find shoes that are awesome for cheap, while other times Nikey puts out a $180 gimmick that barely feels like a “flagship”.
Because of that, we need to arm ourselves with the need-to-know when it comes to shoes. How they should fit, what’s the best build for each player, how support works in a sneaker, how to prevent blisters, and many many more.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
As always, I’m super excited to hear what you think about this. What are your experiences with snatching shoes for cheap? Perhaps you’ve got your favorite discount store you always find good deals on and it’s worth adding here? Or you’ve got a question I haven’t answered yet?