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Shoe Fits

Give my five-year-old a new pair of shoes, and like most kids I know, they'll be trashed within a couple of months. And the latest separation of sole and shoe, along with the lack of tread, forced the issue this weekend.

So, off to Stride Rite we went. But here's the thing. The kid's getting older. And though the salespeople there measure his feet as wide, we recently figured out that we can simply go up a size to handle his width. While I love the service at Stride Rite, it's hard to swallow paying between $45 and $50 for a pair of sneakers that's going to last two months. Turns out the shoes my son liked weren't in stock...thank goodness. And despite his objections, I nixed the colorful Crocs outright. The kid doesn't need any shoe that can get caught in an escalator.

Next stop: Payless. And that's where the trouble began. Nearly all the shoes in his size didn't have either ties or Velcro. Apparently, the latest thing is "Smart Fit" slip ons that are advertised as "quick on/quick off." Maybe, it's just us, but those shoes were definitely not easy on. His foot simply wouldn't go into many of those shoes ... unless they were so large I could fit several fingers between his ankle and the shoe.

Final stop: Target. More slip-ons. More frustration. Seconds before we were about to give up for good, we found one pair that worked. By the time we'd made it back to the car with two exhausted kids, those expensive, reliable Stride Rite shoes weren't looking so overpriced after all.

What kinds of shoes do you buy for the kids? Are you a fan of the slip-ons or would you rather tie or Velcro shoes? And how do you avoid spending a fortune on footwear for your family?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  October 1, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
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My 3 yr old twins get 3 pairs of shoes for each season: A $45 pair of "sneakers" at Stride Rite and then 2 cheaper pairs from Sears, the Shoe Dept, or Kohls. They each get a pair of mary janes and some other slip-on type buc. The three pairs go with any type of outfit and none of them wear out that fast. If they outgrow the stride rite ones before spring, we'll get a new pair at Kohls or something. On a side note, the Stride Rite outlet at Arundel Mills Mall has decent prices. Only $30 or so for the $45 shoes.

As far as tie or velcro, we are now onto velcro. A year ago, I did tie only since both girls would take their slip-on or velcro shoes and socks off in the car EVERY DAY! With laces, I didn't have to worry about it.

Posted by: LBH219 | October 1, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Shoes are one thing we never, ever skimp on. Uncomfortable or poorly fit shoes can mess up your entire body. We buy the boys' shoes at a local shop (not a mall chain). The prices are in the $40-60 range, but we see it as paying not only for the shoes, but also for the expert service provided in finding the right ones. We tell "Miss Sharon" what we're looking for, and she comes back with the 2-4 best possibilities based on each child's feet. The boys choose from among those 2-4, and there's no meltdown because some specific shoe isn't available in the right size or fit.

We also really like the fact that we're supporting a small local business. I'd much rather keep those dollars here in our community. Also, I can't imagine someone at the local chain digging through their storage area to come up with a pair of toddler size 7 sandals in January to help out a panicking mom about to leave on vacation. Or better yet, reminding said mom the following September to pick up some sandals now for the next winter vacation. Seems to me this is all part of "You get what you pay for."

Oh, and velcro for sneakers always.

Posted by: two terrific boys | October 1, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Aah, the middle class dilema. We also buy stride rite but wonder if we are just wasting money. My daughter gets a pair of school shoes, a pair of sneakers and a pair of church shoes each season. The church shoes are Mary Janes from Target. I figured since she wears them for a few hours each week, they don't need to be expensive stride rite. I do notice that stride rite are better shoes and they have always lasted 3-4 months with my daughter. I think girls are just easier on their things. But boots and dress shoes come from Target. I also buy holiday patent leather shoes from Target but they are hard to find. I did ask my pediatrician and she said you don't need to buy stride rite. As long as the sole is soft and flexible they can wear Target type shoes. But I noticed that the shoes are just better made at stride rite. So for school shoes and sneakers it just makes sense to go with the better brand. But I do wonder if I am just a fool paying too much for shoes. I did want to grab a pair of run in the dirt shoes at Target too. I read that kids shoes are only made to last for 3 or 4 months anyway. Their feet grow pretty fast till around 6 th grade.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 1, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I also never cheap-out on shoes. My cheapskate mother always bought us Stride Rite, and I do the same for my daughter (or another similar high-quality brand). We save money on clothes, but I would hate to think she even developed foot or leg problems because I didn't pony up for decent shoes. I also manage to save money by not buying her multiple pairs of shoes at a time.

She's worn velcro-closure shoes since she could walk. Now at 3, she likes wearing the cute Mary-Jane sneaker styles, which honestly go with everything.

I like to get the shoes fitted in the store, but then buy them (or at least the next size up) online where you can sometimes get good deals. I bought a nice pair of Stride Rite shoes recently on Amazon for about $15. Definitely better than paying $50!

Posted by: viennamom | October 1, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree with foamgnome. Christmas black patent leathers come from Target. They get worn 2 or 3 times, so why pay $40 for them. Snow boots for now come from Target too. We go out in the snow at most half a dozen times each winter. If we lived in Maine, I'd be buying my girls $40 boots from LL Bean each year!

With most things, you get what you pay for. If you buy your kid a $12 pair of shoes from Target and they wear them every day to play outside and run around in, of course they are going to fall apart in a month or so. So if you then buy a 2nd pair at Target, you may as well have spent $30 or so to begin with and have them last longer. It's like bathing suits. You buy a decent one at Lands End or LL Bean and it lasts all summer and fits properly. You buy a $5.99 one at Target and it is pilled and totally stretched out by mid July.

Posted by: LBH219 | October 1, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

We're just entering shoe territory at our house as our 8 month old is starting to pull up on things and the weather is cooling. Thus far he has worn socks or some cade & co. shoes a friend got us, but will need bigger ones soon. Any recommendations for soft infant shoes for the coming winter (he is a big guy about 25 lbs with big feet so probably will be wearing larges soon). I see Robeez, pedipeds, etc but would welcome recommendations from those with experience. Thanks!

Posted by: alexandriamom | October 1, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I've got one word -- Zappos! No tax, free shipping (including returns), and overnight delivery to my door. Anytime I don't have to get in the car with my kids and go to the store, I'm happy! I just order several shoes in different sizes and just keep what fits. My daughter can try them on and walk around the house for a little while, which gives a better idea of how they feel. Plus, I find taking small people to stores is overwhelming for them. The number of choices tends to cause sensory overload and it's hard to make any decisions. I agree that well-made shoes are important, so am willing to spend money on them. She gets a pair of tennies, a pair of dressy shoes, a pair of school shoes, and then seasonally appropriate boots or sandals. She's been pretty easy on shoes so far. My son, however, actually rubbed a hole in the top of his Robeez from crawling. He just chews up shoes, but it's more cost effective to buy 1 quality pair of shoes than 3 pairs of cheap ones that will have to be replaced much quicker.

Posted by: Amoroma | October 1, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

We buy sneakers at the stride ride outlet. They are about $30 a pair and well worth it.

We live in Denver so we get their snow boots there as well since they get used a lot. Plus they use them for two years so $30 a pair is worth it.

Posted by: Dennis | October 1, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I am running into size confusion because I keep going back and forth between Euro and American and can't keep track. Currently I have a bag with 4 pr. of too-smalls (20s and 4.5s) and 3 pair of size 6 shoes I got on sale that are for later in the winter. We have one pair of Ecco saddle shoes (identical to ones we had before) in a 21 that fit. These I bought on Ebay for about $10 after shipping.

I buy a lot of shoes at Nordstrom Rack but lately there's been a dry patch.

I agree about the sneaker MaryJanes- they are the best for going with everything. Hope I can find a new pair soon (for under $40!).

Sorry for the ramble... I've been obsessing on shoes the past week.

Posted by: MaryB | October 1, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

My boys both have wide feet and we have the best luck finding shoes at Stride Rite. We have had no luck with the slip-on shoes for either of the boys or with buying a larger size. My daughter has narrow feet and we have pretty good luck finding shoes for her at any store. We've had some great luck for her recently at the Marshall's near our house which just expanded the shoe dept. We use the Stride Rite outlet as much as possible for the boys. They both have two pair of shoes for the fall/winter seasons. In the summer they have sneakers and flip flops. My daughter has a larger shoe collection because her shoes seem to last longer and she actually cares about shoes. The boys still wear whatever I pick out for them.

Posted by: Mom_2_LED | October 1, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I like the old navy sneakers for our son whose 2. We've also found cheap sneakers and sandals at carter's.

Posted by: emmy | October 1, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

We're also just entering the world of shoes for my 10-month old. We bought three pair at a consignment store this weekend, including a pair of Stride Rite sneakers for $5 that looked brand new. He has a pair of knock-off Robeez-type shoes from Target for half the price, but I did see barely used leather shoes (Robeez, Bobux) at the consignment shop as well. For infants/toddlers who grow so quickly, this seems like a good way to find real top-quality brands at cheaper prices.

Posted by: Kali | October 1, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Re: Robeez, Bobux and Target knock-offs

DS#2 wore the Target knock-offs for quite some time. We were able to buy several pairs in different colours/patterns for what one pair of name brands would have cost. They also held up well - my friend's son is wearing some of our hand-me-downs right now. Although I suppose that could be because we had several pairs in rotation, so no one pair really took all the wear...

Posted by: two terrific boys | October 1, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I have never had a problem with Target/Kohl shoes not lasting long. My oldest son (now 5) is very particular about shoes and usually only wears his favorite pair. But even then, wearing them all day 5 days a week and when outside on weekends, can get the sneakers to last 4 to 6 months. And because he's very particular, it means we don't have to buy too many shoes - a pair of sneakers, and when he grows up in size a pair of nicer brown shoes (for dressing up). Black patent leathers are only purchased at the holidays.

The twins will start wearing shoes soon, and that's going to make budgeting for sneakers more fun. At least the nicer shoes will work as hand-me-downs (not worn out enough).

Posted by: Got boys | October 1, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I sold Stride Rite shoes all through high school and college and I can tell you you should NOT skimp on shoes! By going up a size to accomodate width, your child can trip and fall much easier. I am expecting my first baby in a few weeks and it will be Stride Rite or similar (fitted properly) for day to day wear. For dress shoes, go to Target - a few hours' wear won't hurt anyone. But for day to day use, you have to have a proper fit. You really do.

Posted by: Sold em for years | October 1, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Like many of the posters, I buy my 19-month old son Stride Rite shoes. He has wide feet, and they make cute little brown baby shoes with velcro that fit him just great, last longer than he fits them, and are good for his feet. He's a boy- and does a 2 year old need tennis shoes? No. He gets one pair of shoes that are nice enough to look good and casual enough to play in. Last summer we bought a pair of sandals from stride rite. We'll probably end up buying a pair of snow boots this winter (since we moved to Nebraska), but that's it. And I've compared the cheaper shoes- they're just not made as well. So we pay 40 bucks at Stride Rite- same as my mom did when I was little.

Posted by: Tiffany | October 1, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I did Stride Rite for my son for a number of years when he was younger. He's 10 now and for the past couple of years he's loved Sketchers, which he gets to choose the color of. As for DD, she's turning 3yrs and we've been doing the Target/Wal Mart shoes for her. That worked well since she's been outgrowing her shoes so quickly. I think I'll be going to Stride Rite for her from now on with her starting pre-school and other activities.

As for slip ons, my son had an issue and I preferred velcroe for him, they allowed him to adjust them to what felt comfortable for him and not have them accidently fly off or trip him like the slip ons.

Posted by: Isra | October 1, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I get nearly all of my kids' shoes from Lands End Overstocks--the quality is fabulous and I can usually find sneakers, school shoes, winter boots, and summer sandals for roughly the same price as Target's regular prices. I've never had a problem with fit or quality, which has been especially nice now that the kids aren't growing so quickly and will wear shoes for a long time before outgrowing them.

Posted by: Sarah | October 1, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

1. $45 is a rip off for a pair of shoes. My 5 and 7 year olds just got new shoes from Big Bad Evil Walmart for less than $20 for each pair. They fit great and the kids love them.

2. It looks like a whole lot of wasted effort is going into a relatively simple task. If that's how you manage your time, I can see why we regularly get articles about how overwhelming parenting can be. Spending a whole day driving to 3 or 4 different places to look for one pair of shoes seems to me a colossal waste of time.

3. How will kids learn how to tie their own shoes if they don't have shoelaces?

4. Regardless of what shoe they're wearing, make your kids stand still and pay attention on an escalator and they won't get their toes ripped off. Really, it's just the Darwin effect at work.

Posted by: sean | October 1, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Re: "1. $45 is a rip off for a pair of shoes. My 5 and 7 year olds just got new shoes from Big Bad Evil Walmart for less than $20 for each pair. They fit great and the kids love them.
2. It looks like a whole lot of wasted effort is going into a relatively simple task. If that's how you manage your time, I can see why we regularly get articles about how overwhelming parenting can be. Spending a whole day driving to 3 or 4 different places to look for one pair of shoes seems to me a colossal waste of time."

Not every child can work an "off the rack shoe." All of my boys need a double EE for width. Thus, much extra time is needed to find shoes that fit properly sometimes necessitating 3 or 4 trips to different stores. We have gone to 4 different stores and gone home empty-handed because of hard-to-fit feet.

3. How will kids learn how to tie their own shoes if they don't have shoelaces?

I absolutely agree with you about the laces. Tieing shoes is a must for children. It prevents accidents, gives the kid something to feel good about and helps the teachers out. That being said, as soon as they have mastered tieing their laces, velcro is okay IMHO :]

Posted by: momof3boys | October 1, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I found a Vans outlet at Arundel Mills mall to be a great place for buying my boys' shoes. They have a good selection of velcro shoes, great styles (I love the look) and the prices can't be beat at $15-$20 a pair! The kids seem to really like them too.

Posted by: Sarah | October 1, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree with all of the posters who have remarked on the importance of quality in shoes. It's not just about fit either, it is about how shoes encourage a healthy gait and habits of standing that affect everything from impact on your knees, hips, spine, as well as your feet. That is the risk you take with discount stores (especially if you wear them all the time) not just that they will fall apart soon.

The trick, I suppose, is finding places where you can get quality more cheaply. Stride Rite may be a kind of benchmark, but it is expensive. I will admit to paying the prices anyway, but it is like glasses: you can get them cheaper only when you are lucky and in the right place at the right time.

Posted by: David S | October 1, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

And despite his objections, I nixed the colorful Crocs outright. The kid doesn't need any shoe that can get caught in an escalator.

PA LEE ZZEE! Making a determination on a shoe based on that is a joke. His shoelaces could get caught in an escalator. My kids runs through shoes left and right. I finally bought him some basketball hightops, those are very tough to demolish in two months time.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 1, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I typically go with higher quality sneakers and tennis shoes -- as they get the most wear. New Balance and Aasics make very good quality youth shoes. I buy them at Dick's Sporting Goods or Kohl's or sometimes Kids Footlocker (they sometimes have buy one, get one at 50% sales). My husband, a runner noticed that some of the 'cheap' sneakers were as heavy as bricks vs a slightly more expensive shoe.

Like many other posters, I purchase dress shoes and boots that have more limited useage at Target, Kohl's, Payless, etc.

Posted by: Mom of three | October 1, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Some people really cannot afford spending striderite prices and that doesn't mean they don't care as much about their children's well-being as others do. I came from a modest background and my parents bought me the best shoes they could afford,which often meant Payless. I buy the Target knock-off of Robeez for my daughter (she actually has a Robeez as well and I can't tell the difference).

High-end stores like to equate quality parenting with money and parents just eat it up.

Posted by: mommywriter | October 1, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Let the kids go barefoot. It'll toughen them up.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

My family certainly could not afford stride rite growing up, we wore target and sears. Also, since my parents taught us to watch where we walked, we definitely never had trouble riding an escalator. What's up with that?

Posted by: Me | October 1, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I have been buying target shoes for the kids for the most part. And the thing is, I buy them on sale - so I just buy a few pairs of the higher sizes and figure - hey, eventually they'll be this size. If they can't wear them for whatever reason, I know I could sell them at a consignment sale or yard sale or in the neighborhood for what I paid for them.

I definitely have a dilemma, in that I have huge troubles with my feet, so I feel that I should be getting better shoes, but then I see that the shoes fit, and the kids seem fine, etc.

Yes, I do replace them often as they each have ONE pair of shoes. For the 5 YO that might change soon, but for now, they definitely don't need more than sneakers.

Also, I have found with clothing AND with shoes, that most stores have these HUGE sections for girls, and then something like one rack for boys. As in, what is the deal? The stores overbuy the girl stuff, then it all goes on sale - but boy stuff is pretty well picked over, so it rarely goes on sale (or at least what I need) since they never have enough boy stuff out in the first place. Anyone else notice this? SO discriminatory!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 1, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

We did stride right exclusively for our kids in their first two years or so. We bought into the sales pitch that they are better for children's feet. Are there any podiatrists or pediatricians that care to weigh in on this? Since then, we buy some stride right, some target shoes. We live in Montgomery county and like the Shoe Train in Cabin John Mall and the Children's Shoe Box in Lakeforest mall. Real nice people there.

Posted by: Cliff | October 1, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse


"We bought into the sales pitch that they are better for children's feet."

You are correct. You and your S.O. bought into one of the biggest rip-off bags of B.S. in history!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Cliff, my pediatrician told me you don't need to buy stride rite. She says she buys from Target herself. She said all you need is a flexible soft sole. But I do find once they start wearing the shoes a lot( at school all day), that stride rite just lasts longer and are a better quality. But if you wanted to buy two Target shoes for the price of one stride rite, you probably would get the same amount of time for them. Because the Target shoes seem to wear out quicker. But according to my doctor, stride rite is not necessary.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 1, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll just say that since shoes are a well known and predictable expense, knowing when/where sales and specials will happen can cut way down on the expenses in the long term.

Posted by: Liz D | October 1, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

We love our Merrell's!! They are waterproof and warm as you can get without being clunky snow boots. You can find them at Nordstrom's, the sporting good stores, and online (provided you know the size).

Posted by: LGMich | October 1, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I second the Lands End suggestions, the overstocks website is great! Sears also carries the Lands End shoes (and clothes) and often has really good sales as well. Items ordered from Lands End can also be returned to a Sears store which is really nice--although I very rarely have to return something to them.

Posted by: hear hear | October 1, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I do not pay $45 for shoes. I pay for one good pair of tennis shoes- usually at the sporting goods store b/c of sales and coupons at the beginning of school and usually again around easter, but would not pay more than $30 (and even that is a stretch- I don't pay it for my own shoes and my feet don't grow!)

That being said- my mother loves to buy shoes for my kids and usually takes them out for school and/or holiday shoes. With 5 I have to be the practical one!

Also- the Crocs escalator thing is a perfectly good reason not to buy them. A little boy lost 1/2 his foot in a local mall here in Pittsburgh just a few weeks ago. I threw my kids out...

Posted by: Mom of 5 | October 1, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I threw my kids out...

Posted by: Mom of 5 | October 1, 2007 01:43 PM

Wow. Seems kind of drastic. I would have kept the kids and just gotten rid of the shoes!

Posted by: Sarah | October 1, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

LandsEnd is great. I bought a cheap pair ($24) of hiking type boots years ago and they've held up great. Not to hot for backpacking, but fine for day hikes. I'd imagine they'd be good for kids stuff too.

When I was a kid my velcro shoes always called to me during the really quiet parts at church. All I wanted to do was pull them open as loudly as possible and re-situate them over and over. My dad was not pleased.

Posted by: Em | October 1, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm not affiliated with the company, but we bought my son a pair of Keens this summer and I absolutely love them (and so does he). They serve as a sneaker, sandal and water shoe. He hardly took them off except to sleep or when they needed washing. You can toss them in the washer and you're good to go. My daughter can't wait for next summer when she can have a pair.

For winter shoes, we go with Merrill slip ons and a pair of well fitting sneakers. I don't mind spending extra on a shoe that fits well and is versatile. If your feet hurt, your whole life kind of stinks, so I feel the extra money (if needed) is well worth it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 1, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Old Navy has very cute toddler sneakers that are made of fabric and suede and they're under $15 on-line. They do slip-on easily, though I have to adjust the tongue for my son. They run a bit wide and we'll have to see how durable they are, but so far so good!

Posted by: SamsMom | October 1, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

momof5: Where do you find decent tennis shoes for less then $45 for an adult? The cheapest I can find is tretorns for around $40-50. Sneakers last me at least a year to a year and half for a walking sneaker. I want something that will hold up and are comfortable. But if I can find them for less,I would love to know. Please share.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 1, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by atlmom1234 @ October 1, 2007 12:58 PM:

"Also, I have found with clothing AND with shoes, that most stores have these HUGE sections for girls, and then something like one rack for boys. As in, what is the deal? The stores overbuy the girl stuff, then it all goes on sale - but boy stuff is pretty well picked over, so it rarely goes on sale (or at least what I need) since they never have enough boy stuff out in the first place. Anyone else notice this? SO discriminatory!"

I have noticed this, but boy's clothing is hardly the only place. If you are a man, being short, tall, husky, etc. makes it hard to find clothing in a "normal" store. I am sure I am not the only one who has to use the Big & Tall store (that also sells clothes for the Small & Short) or the internet to get something that fits.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The Anonymous poster at 2:13pm was me.

Posted by: David S | October 1, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Foamgnome said: "Cliff, my pediatrician told me you don't need to buy stride rite. She says she buys from Target herself. She said all you need is a flexible soft sole."

Your pediatrician seems to have left out one important factor - the shoes need to fit right! Little kids aren't very good at explaining that their shoes are uncomfortable. I thought DS#1 was just annoyingly acting his age when he kept taking off his shoes in the car. Turns out his foot is too wide for most regular shoes but not quite wide enough for many wide shoes. Like sizes for many women's clothes, shoe sizes are not as uniform as you think - or as they should be! Right now, DS#1 has 3 pairs of shoes by different makers - their sizes are 1W, 1.5 and 2W. We'd have to try on every pair of shoes at Target to find *maybe* one pair that *might* fit him right. Even if your child measures a perfect 12 or 2 or whatever, there are still plenty of shoes out there that won't fit right. I think the point of "Stride Rite" or any traditional, non-self-service shoe store is that you're paying not only for shoe quality/longevity, but also for a professional fitting.

Posted by: two terrific boys | October 1, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

We have a 3 Y.O. and after Robeez, we found Pedoodles to be the "next step" from there--leather-sewn shoes with a plastic sole for colder weather at a more reasonable price (~$26). We did buy her some Stride Rite, but the price vs. the time in them always made us feel ripped off. We've bought Target but found they scuff more easily. We just bought some more Pedoodles for our 3 Y.O. and our 1 Y.O., who just learned how to walk.

Posted by: Jennifer in NJ | October 1, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

2terrificboys: I still buy stride rite because I think they last longer and because they fit your child. But to be honest, I found some of the sales people at stride rite don't take a lot of interest in measuring their feet well. I always look for the one sales person because I know she will take the time to measure my DD's feet properly. Once a child is old enough to talk (say grade school)you could probably ask them how it feels. Again, I was just telling Cliff that my pediatrician doesn't feel it was necessary. But you should always ask several people. Even though she felt it was not necessary, I still go to stride rite.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 1, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Foamgnome: I hear you on some of the staff at some Stride Rites. Again, that's why we patronize a local shoe store, Steppin' Up Shoes, in Centreville. As for letting you know their shoes don't fit, I have a friend whose daughter gave herself blisters wearing shoes she insisted fit. Turns out these were the "in" shoes that all the third graders were wearing. Unbelievable!

Posted by: two terrific boys | October 1, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"think the point of "Stride Rite" or any traditional, non-self-service shoe store is that you're paying not only for shoe quality/longevity, but also for a professional fitting."


Posted by: chittybangbang | October 1, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone have a recommendation for good shoes (under say $75) for narrow girls feet - size 2 (big kid) or higher?

My older daughter has a narrow foot and a narrow heel. This means she can't wear Crocs, slip on's, any Lands End or Ll Bean or Target/Payless Shoe. She needs laces that she can yank tight.

It usually means buying Primigi Italian shoes, really expensive sneakers, or in the old days (2 years ago) for some reason she could fit Elefanten - remember those?

Last summer, we were in Germany where there are entire Elefanten shoe stores for kids and I almost went crazy! They had cool shoes in narrow sizes. We went home with only one pair but even with the lousy exchange rate, it was still a better deal than the meager offerings at Nordstrom. I could kick myself for not having bought 2 pairs and an extra a size larger. She wore those German shoes for exactly one year until she had worn them down (they will never get destroyed - such high quality) and out grew them.

Anyway, any narrow ideas would be very helpful!

Posted by: Mom of narrow feet | October 1, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I grew up wearing Buster Browns (there--you now know I'm old!) because foot issues run in the family. I had a particularly narrow heel and high arch, so had to wear good quality shoes. Our sons both wore Stride Rite for the same reason--one has a narrow foot with high arch, and the other takes after his father with an extraordinarly wide foot (EEEE) and an almost flat arch. Cheap shoes would have wreaked havoc with their feet as well as their knees and hips. It cost a bundle, especially when their feet grew a size every three months.

I learned that quality counts when I went to college. I was tired of the stodgy old shoes I had been forced to wear growing up, and I wanted more pairs of shoes. So, being the brilliant person that I thought I was, I went to a cheap shop and bought several pairs of cool shoes for what one or two pairs of good shoes would have cost.

My feet and knees let me know very soon aftre that I had made a mistake. I went back to good shoes and fewer of them.

Of course, if you or your child can wear cheaper shoes and not have problems, more power to you! I often wished we could get away with it, but it was not meant to be....

Posted by: Lynne | October 1, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm cheap, so my 16-month old wears hand-me-down shoes, mostly from Target, etc. She started walking at 11 months and since then has grown 4 sizes. There's no way I would spend $30-45 on a pair of shoes at this point. The shoes that she had the least problem walking in were Cherokee brand with very flexible soles. The majority of her shoes are velcro, but some sneakers have laces.

Posted by: Leslie in MD | October 1, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Target. Oh, and we found one store in our local mall called "Fashion Baby" that had toddler-sized shoes for $6. 4yo loves them. Of course, we live in CA, so she only ever needs one pair of shoes per two seasons: buckled sandals (with rubber toe guards) for summer and spring and velcro sneakers for autumn and winter. It helps she has very small, narrow feet, and doesn't grow very fast. I have to say, though, that Target sandals hold up almost indefinitely, at least until she outgrows them, and she loves to climb on the "rock walls" at the playground.

Posted by: Kat | October 1, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

wow, yeah, lots of fighting on this one. My parents used to get me three pairs of shoes a year, September, December and June. My oldest son definitely will wear holes in shoes or destroy the cheap uppers in a matter of 1-2 months. His shoes from Land's End didn't last more than 2 WEEKS! It was a lot of hassle to get a refund through the mail. I don't trust that company at all anymore, but they did refund the money. They aren't talking about 8 Balls one minute and fitting my child's feet the next.

I was at Payless about 2 years ago when the two guys behind the counter started talking about doing hard drugs using the street names for drugs furtively- as if I never watched The Wire. I never went back.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Mom of narrow feet:

Zappos sells Elefenten shoes online.

Posted by: minniwanca | October 1, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I remember Buster Browns! And Fayva, Thom McCann, and Kinney (so there!)...And I'm a *former* Payless shopper. Why is that the shoes seem to fit in the store, but you wear them once and you've got blisters? I should have just returned them, but I didn't and they're in their boxes taking up space in my closet. I now pay more (or wait for a good sale) and shop at JC Penney or Kohls and if I can find one, Bass Outlet.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | October 1, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Slip-ons are horrid.

Posted by: Liz | October 1, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I have vivid, and not so happy, memories of growing up in Pennsylvania not far from the Reading outlets, where we had to go at least twice a year for our shoe shopping excursions. And while they were long and arduous, I now recommend a trip to Reading for anyone needing to buy their shoes - good shoes, cheap, and huge variety of sizes and selections.

Posted by: jp | October 1, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Our 5-year-old gets pretty sweaty feet and has a history of itchy toes that a pediatrician recently suggested was likely athlete's foot. She recommended two things: over-the-counter ointment for the athlete's foot, and Geox shoes(she promised she didn't own stock in the company). They're the shoes that have a venting system that supposedly helps keep shoes (and feet) dry (and not stinky). And she said they hold up better than other shoes she's bought for her kids.

They're pretty pricey--I think we paid $70. But so far, so good. Between the ointment and/or the shoes, his toes are much better.

In the past we'd been strictly Stride Rite, in part because they carry the extra wides our kid has needed. Geox doesn't carry extra wides, per se, but we found a pair that seem to fit fine.

Posted by: deaner | October 1, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Good grief. No wonder you all have to work, what with buying your children umpteen thousand pairs of $50 shoes a year.

What a bunch of snobs.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

A question for all the many, many people here who proudly proclaim how little you spend on a pair of shoes for your child: why the pride? Do you also spend next-to-nothing on your own shoes that you wear every day? Do you in fact wear $11 vinyl pumps from Target to your job 4+ days a week?

But seriously. why is this something to be so proud of?

Posted by: why so chintzy? | October 1, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

My husband is a physician (but not a pediatrician or a podiatrist) and refuses to skimp on our kids' shoes. We live in Mpls and get our shoes at a local place called the ShoeZoo. We end up spending anywhere from $40 to $90 per pair per kid. Each kid gets 1-2 pair per season (usually one pair, but also snow boots in winter). I do wear cheapie Target shoes, but I don't run around all day.

Posted by: Matilda | October 2, 2007 12:31 AM | Report abuse

@why so chintzy?

Um...yes, actually. The most expensive shoes I've ever bought were my $14 flip-flops. Even when I was in England, I wasn't dropping more than 10 quid on (comfortable, flattering) work/dress shoes that I've had for three years and they've only JUST begun to wear out.

I don't secretly have billions of dollars that I spend on myself. I've had my eyebrows waxed exactly once this year for $6. The only time I get new clothes are when Torrid is having a sale, and my husband has a discount for on top of it, or when Torrid donates to Goodwill, and I can pick up a dress for $8.

It's something to be proud of because I technically live at the poverty line (especially for my location), but I can still afford to outfit myself and my stepdaughter by not succumbing to vanity and by really SEARCHING for deals.

It's the same with food. We have brown rice, lentils, barley, onions, potatoes, and tofu because they come bulk, cheap, and keep for a long time. I will STOCK UP my freezer with chicken carcasses when it's on sale for under 60 cents a pound, or buy beef on 4th of July or other bbq holidays (yay sales!), but meat is not the base of our diet because we cannot afford it (and because we're a Jewish/Muslim household so pork is right out).

But again, I'm lucky we live in Southern California, where there are more or less only two seasons (summer and not summer), and babyface grows slowly. She still fits into a 2T as long as we cut the collar open for her head. My husband even trimmed up a 2T onesie he had bought for her that he loves so she can now wear it as a shirt.

Posted by: Kat | October 2, 2007 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Kat - I think that's awesome. Truly!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I just can't believe this post was up for 4 hours before anyone mentioned the Crocs comment. Almost any shoe can get caught in an escalator, or otherwise interfere with proper riding in a way that results in injury. As a college student I had a shoe (Keds-type sneaker) get caught at the top of an escalator -- my foot came out of it, and another passenger helped pull out the shoe. As an adult (some 20 years later) I had a pump get caught on the edge of the step on a Metro escalator and ended up with a broken ankle.

Escalators are so much more dangerous than people give them credit for. Focus on safety with kids, and they'll be safe no matter what shoes they wear.

Posted by: A mom | October 2, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I have bought all my son's shoes at garage sales, rummage shops, etc. High-quality shoes, a little worn out or outgrown, and he loves them. I test the soles for flexibility and feel the inside to make sure they are still soft. No problems, and often I get a great pair of shoes for $1-5.

I buy most of my son's clothes this way as well. Can't beat it!

Posted by: Rebecca | October 2, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

For those looking for odd sizes or deals on Stride-Rite brand, try have 20% off sales often, free shipping, and if you become a "member" you get another 10% off as well.

Posted by: KH | October 2, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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