How to Thrift Shop for Vintage Florsheim Imperial Shoes


Shopping thrift shops, flea markets and property gross sales might be overwhelming. With the sheer quantity of stuff, how have you learnt the place to start out? How do you see gems amid all of the … nicely, junk?

As knowledgeable reseller who has been combing by way of thrift shops for the higher a part of 30 years, I can assist. If you’re prepared to chop your purchasing time in half, rating larger bargains or stroll away with brag-worthy finds you possibly can flip for money, learn on.

From hard-to-find home items to resale money-makers, all the things featured in my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” sequence qualifies as a BOLO (Be On the Look-Out for) merchandise. When you discover it, purchase it!

Featured discover: Vintage Florsheim Imperial footwear

Do you keep away from the shoe part at thrift outlets? You’re not alone. For many, the “ick” issue of shopping for used footwear isn’t well worth the financial savings or potential revenue. And whereas the aversion makes good sense — individuals are bizarre about ft anyway, proper? — classic Florsheim Imperial footwear would possibly change your thoughts.

They are one of many hottest gadgets in resale clothes proper now — and fortunately, one of many best to search out within the wild. But one huge caveat earlier than we proceed: The Imperial line was designed for males. Sadly, there’s no equal Florsheim hot-seller for girls.

Founded by Milton Florsheim in 1892, Florsheim footwear began in a small manufacturing facility in Chicago. The firm blended high quality craftsmanship and elegance with what was an afterthought on the time — private consolation.

By 1920, the corporate had a yearly income of $10 million and operated 48 retail shops throughout the nation.

In the Nineteen Fifties, the family-owned operation was bought to the International Shoe Co., and by the Nineteen Eighties, Florsheim’s legendary high quality started to slide as manufacturing moved abroad.

In 2002, the Florsheim Shoe Co. was reclaimed by the descendants of its founder. Milton’s great-grandsons bought the model and have up to date its choices with new supplies and a renewed dedication to consolation and elegance.

Why purchase it?

Vintage Florsheim Imperials are nicknamed “gunboats.” The time period refers back to the naval ships of World War II — massive, overbuilt and almost not possible to destroy.

If you’ve ever owned a pair, you understand the moniker suits completely. This premier line of Florsheim footwear featured leather-based uppers, multi-layer leather-based soles, and heels manufactured by Goodyear.

Going “toe-to-toe” with that stage of high quality right this moment would take lots of of {dollars} (and the assistance of a talented cobbler). When you discover a pair of Imperials that match, purchase ’em. They will in all probability outlast all different footwear you personal.

But if carrying used footwear simply isn’t your factor, Florsheim Imperials are extremely “flip-able” within the resale market. Most thrift outlets worth footwear between $7 and $10, however dapper dressers will fortunately pay greater than $100 per pair on-line.

This dimension 11 C pair in brown leather-based bought for $199.99 on eBay and this dimension 10 pair bought for $135. On Etsy, this pair of dimension 11 B Imperials in black is listed for $303.60.

What to search for

Florsheim marked their footwear nicely. The brand, often printed in gold, might be discovered on the insole of every shoe. It reads “THE FLORSHEIM SHOE” and is adopted by a picture of a crown and the phrases “Imperial Quality” in extremely flourished script.

Some Imperials even have a inexperienced label sewn on the within lining. Look for a small oval label that reads “FLORSHEIM IMPERIAL.”

If you intend to resell Imperials for a revenue, take note of the next particulars to get probably the most bang in your buck:

  • Construction technique: Some early Florsheim Imperials characteristic a V cleat, a small triangular piece of steel on the heel backside that’s designed to sluggish put on. Shoes with V cleats sometimes have one other fascinating characteristic: five-nail building. Where the ball of the foot hits on the only, search for 5 small nails — three on one aspect and two on the opposite. This building technique secures the a number of layers of leather-based collectively.
  • Style: Wingtips, additionally referred to as “brogues,” are inclined to promote for greater values than plain-toe kinds. And longwings — footwear with wingtip element that extends to the again of the shoe — promote for a premium.
  • Style quantity: Though all classic wingtips have worth, fashion numbers 93602, 93604 and 93605 are in excessive demand. Find the fashion quantity beneath the dimensions marking on the liner of the shoe.
  • Color and texture: In my expertise, brown Florsheims promote higher than blacks and burgundies. Buyers additionally desire pebble-grain leather-based over clean.
  • Condition: Condition is king. Avoid footwear with extreme put on to the again of the heels or thinning leather-based on the soles.

Pro-tip: Employ the “bend check” earlier than shopping for any pair of secondhand footwear. Turn every shoe over in order that the only is seen, then bend downward (heel in the direction of the toe). This easy flex makes any cut up within the sole instantly seen.


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