A great deal of wholesale shoes and other goods on sale are sold and distributed by suppliers who receive the goods from department stores and shops. Shoes can be ‘rejected’ as unsaleable by a shop for any number of reasons: display shoes, shoes that have been taken out of their boxes or whose packaging is damaged, shoes that have been returned, shoes that have been discontinued or are out of season, shoes that have been overpurchased and left unsold, and so on. This can be a profitable business, and the vast majority of department stores will have some sort of a scheme for passing these shoes on to suppliers willing to sell them on to smaller shops or independent buyers.
What will often happen is that these middle-men suppliers will store the boxes of shoes according to their style or their shop or brand of origin, and make them available for sale in large numbers. This means you will need to be prepared to buy a minimum number of pairs, or more often a minimum number of pallets filled with shoes from a certain shop or brand. Because the shoes may be slightly or wholly defective, the price of a pallet is not great, but the quality of the shoes you receive will dictate the number of pairs you are actually able to use or sell on, and the profit you are able to make.
Wholesale shoe-distribution is a surprisingly mammoth business, and it is rare to find a supplier willing or able to check and list every item in every pallet before selling the pallet on. You will need to be sure to find a reputable supplier with a good history of quality sales before committing your money to the scheme, since you will essentially be buying the shoes on trust. Generally, these suppliers operate a policy of no returns, and require you to pay in full before the shipment is sent to you. There are a whole range of terms, conditions and disclaimers, but this should not discourage you if you trust the supplier and are sure to receive a pretty good batch of saleable goods. Regular customers and those buying in bulk will find that there are good discounts for multiple purchases, and it can be worth taking advantage of these as long as the shoes you buy are not fad items that will be out of fashion before they hit your shelves.
A far less risky way to get your hands on wholesale shoes is to visit a local surplus supplier. Phone ahead to make sure they welcome potential clients into the warehouse, and you should find that they are more than happy for you to choose which pallets of goods you would like to purchase. In this way the percentage of defective items will be considerably lower than if you just buy goods on trust.