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Generally speaking, the price that something sells for on eBay is a combination of two factors: how much it cost when new, and how hard it is to get.
Now, if you live in a rural area, you may be able to waltz down to your local feed store and pick up a pair of cowboy boots. They will be expensive but at least they will be available. For the rest of the world, there is eBay.
Whenever there is an expensive product that may be limited geographically, you should be smelling opportunity on eBay. Especially if your area (like mine) happens to be particularly rich in that item… In this case…cowboy boots.
Why Are Cowboy Boots So Expensive?
In general, cowboy boots are expensive because of the materials used and the labor involved in making the boots. Unlike many other types of boots, high-end cowboy boots are made by hand in the USA of premium or exotic materials.
Before we get to brands, however, let’s talk about a few non-brand things that make cowboy bots worth picking up:
What To Look For When Thrifting Cowboy Boots
1. Exotic Skin/Leather
Exotic materials (usually an unusual type of leather) are one of the main distinguishing factors of high-end boots.
Some brands have carved out a niche for themselves by specializing in usual materials.
For example, while many brands focus on making their boots more colorful or complex, Tony Lama often makes boots in simple colors (black or grey) but with materials such as sharkskin, stingray, eel, alligator, etc.
If you’ve ever seen a pair of cowboy boots, it is easy to notice the unusual while sourcing.
Just Look for boots with an odd texture or color.
Identifying the type of leather you have is much more important for listing. This can typically be done by looking up the model number printed inside the boot, or looking up boots of that particular brand and finding similar items. If all else fails, you can also send a picture of the boots to the company and they will identify them for you.
If you are in a hurry, you can almost always identify a high-quality cowboy boot by the feel of the leather. If there are several pairs, just walk down the aisle and feel each one. If they have a cheap plastic-type feel, especially the upper leather, go ahead and pass on them.
2. Colorful Embroidery
Embroidering a piece of clothing has always been a sign of luxury. Embroidery takes either a great deal of time to do well or a great deal of technology/expense to do quickly. The clothing company Johnny Was is well known for its colorful and complex designs. Now imagine, if someone is willing to pay $100’s of dollars for an embroidered piece of cotton, how much more would a pair of handcrafted leather boots be worth if they were richly embroidered?
Any boots that you see with actual thread embroidery will be worth picking up. The example pictured is a pair of Double D Ranch boots that retail for $755.
3. Handcrafted Leather/Made In The USA
If you see a “handcrafted” stamp on a pair of boots if typically means one of two things: the boots are vintage or very expensive (or both!). Handcrafting of any sort is an obvious sign of expense, and people think the same about anything that is made in the USA. Anything that people think “must be better,” they will pay more for!
You are also likely to find a lot of handcrafted boots that were made in Mexico or a South American Country. We often pick these up if they are unusual or nice enough to sell on the merits of quality alone, as the brands are typically not well known.
As with embroidery, the added complexity of cut-outs (or any sort of laying leather) is typically a hallmark of expensive boots.
Any brand that is concerned with doing things cheaply and producing “affordable” (read: lower quality) products, is not going to take the time to create extra detailing. So, if you see genuine leather boots with cut outs or layered leather details, they’re almost always worth picking up.
Cowboy Boot Toe Types
- D toe: Tapered toward a point, but with a flat tip
- R toe: Tapered, but rounded at the tip (the most common toe shape in cowboy boots)
- Square toe: A wide, flat and angular toe
- W toe, U toe, Roper toe: Fully rounded or U-shaped
- J toe: Sharply pointed
How To Identify Cowboy Boot Brands
The easiest way to identify cowboy boot brands is to (obviously) find the brand name printed inside the boot. However, the brand and size are often worn off old older, or well-worn boots, especially when it is on the leather and not on a tag.
In this case, you are either looking for a brand/logo that is stamped into the leather or a style number that you can google.
Many brands do have signature stitching styles but you’ll either have to recognize it yourself or rely on a Facebook or Reddit community to identify the brand from a picture.
13 Best Cowboy Boot Brands To Resell
1. Tony Lama
2. NOCONA BOOTS
3. OLD WEST
5. TWISTED X
10. DAN POST
Now Saddle Up And Ride (To The Thrift Store)
Those brands should be more than enough to get you moving when it comes to boots! If you see something nice, it only takes a minute to look it up.
There are also brands that are expensive enough that they are worth sourcing locally (on Craigslist, FB Marketplace, etc). Unlike most things, cowboy boots are rarely faked so when you find something, you find it! Good luck!