Thoughts on shoes

When I was a kid, it was one of my jobs to take care of my dad’s shoes.  He taught me carefully, using the Kiwi wax in the little circular tins, a bit of water, a clean cotton cloth, and a large horsehair brush.  I enjoyed it, actually, and he gave me a quarter for each pair.  I also took care of a pair of suede shoes he had, using a smaller stiff brush and a thing we called the “suede eraser”, which was a hard white eraser with bits of grit in it.

I have been looking *everywhere* for years for one of these erasers — Target, Wal-Mart, every specialty shoe shop and shoe repair shop I happen by.  Of course, as I type this, I realized I could have looked online for such a product, but it kills me to find a $3 product and then have to pay $7 shipping.

Anyways, last Saturday, while grocery shopping, I went down the non-food aisle.  As a rule, I never buy non-food items at the grocery store — prices are a lot better at Target.  However, we make allowance for certain things, like desparate need of toilet paper.  I had put the tissue into the cart, and wheeled back to resume my food purchases, when I stopped.  There, sandwiched between the emergency sewing items and the super glue was a huge shoe-care section!  Included was… duh-duh-duh-duh!  my suede eraser.  It was $5.99, which seemed a tad pricey, but I picked it up nonetheless.  (Seeing that the small kit is $7.99 on the Kiwi website makes me feel, now, that I got a great deal on it!)

This morning, I put the kit to use on some of Audrey’s shoes, and Ethan’s main pair, as well.  As I was erasing and brushing Ethan’s hiker-like shoes from Target, I thought, “Wow.  These shoes have held up pretty well, except for the laces!” (The laces were a loop of elastic, tightened by a toggle.  The elastic snapped in the first week.  I kept cutting off the frayed, broken spots, tying a knot in the remaining lace.  Finally, about a month ago, there wasn’t enough elastic to make one of the shoes functional, so I replaced the elastic with “regular” hiking laces from Wal-Mart.)  Then, it dawned on me that we’d gotten him these shoes around Christmas.  So, here I was, thrilled that a six-month pair of shoes were still in good shape.  That struck me as not quite right.

When I was a kid, I got three pairs of shoes every year:  At the start of the school year, I’d go with my mom to buy a pair of “Sunday shoes” and a pair of tennies.  Then, at the start of each summer, I’d get a pair of sandals.  By the end of the year, it was frequent that the shoes would be too tight, too small.  But I think I remember only one time when they actually wore out.  (I remember it fairly clearly, because they were a pair of black and silver Nikes that my mom had paid “good money” for that wore holes in the sole well before the year’s end, and my mom was not happy at all.)

I was a tomboy — I ran hard and fast, and did most of my playing outside.  Granted, I went barefoot a lot more often than my kids do, but still…  I was at least as hard, if not harder, on my shoes than they are.  Yet, they did not wear out.

Are shoes now just that much poorer in quality?  Do I buy shoes for my kids that are more cheaply made than my mom bought for me?  Or??  I’m not sure. 

We were really poor — really poor — when I was growing up.  But, I do remember that my mom insisted on buying higher quality, leather shoes for each of us.  I particularly remember trips to Buster Brown.  Maybe this was because she knew that they needed to last all year.


I find myself loathe to spend more than $15 on each pair of my kids’ shoes, shopping long and hard, comparing prices, and, yes, insisiting on leather.  But, maybe I need to suck it up and pay the $25-35 a pair that it would take to get them to last longer than six months.

Speaking of shoes, Audrey practically hyperventilates at the sight of shoes.  I don’t know where she got this;  maybe she got the girl-shoe-love gene from somewhere else in her ancestry.  I like shoes, and have a fair number of pairs.  But never have I been obsessive like she is.  As I cleaned a darling little red nubuck pair of hers, which she hasn’t worn in more than a month, as it’s been too hot, she clambered at my feet, trying to scale my legs and get onto my lap to get the shoes.  When that didn’t work, she stomped both feet, excitedly, making little high-pitched girl-grunt sounds, “Uh-ah!  Uh-ah!”  When I finally finished cleaning them, I gave them to her, and she carried them around her room, admiring (and chewing) them.


After looking online for that pic of her red shoes (which I, incidentally, got unused on eBay for $7.50, including shipping), I see that there are so many cute shoes that, really, aren’t super-expensive — for boys as well as girls.  Maybe I just need to do our shoe purchases online.    


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on June 25, 2007, in Random Stuff, Shoes, Shopping, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Shoes and Girls, like most things with chicks, make no sense. Just accept it. I have, most of my life, hated to shop. And I mostly have a badly mismatched bargain rack wardrobe, but I do love shoes. Still don’t buy spendy shoes, but I often have waaaay more and better shoes than my wardrobe. I often will finally part with a pair cuz I just never end up with an outfit to match. Stupid. But I understand Audrey’s thing for shoes.

  2. Pricier, leather shoes do last longer. But, with young kids, they might outgrow the shoes before they use them up. I actually buy my kids’ shoes at the thrift store, because they are in those ages where the shoes just get too small but are still perfectly fine. On the other hand, when I was a kid I could only wear sturdy leather ankle boots because I had floppy ankles the doctors were trying to straighten out – those shoes were very expensive. And ugly. Now I’m obsessed with pretty shoes, and cool shoes, and boots, and orange shoes. Oohh, just writing this comment made me want to go shoe shopping!

  3. Shellie ~ You do NOT have a badly mismatched wardrobe. Well, if YOURS is considered as such, I’d hate to think what mine might be called. EEK! “Still don’t buy spendy shoes” my foot! Don’t you regularly spend $50+ on them??? 😛

    Sara ~ Obsessed with shoes for yourself? Or your daughter? Or both? Seriously, seeing all the cute & cool shoes for baby girls has made me seriously reconsider my own shoes. I recently bought a couple of pairs — they were just at WalMart, but they both have sparkly things on them, something I would *not* have considered a couple of years ago.

  4. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Usually, I spend about 15 bucks at Ross. I’ve spent like $35 on used Danskos on ebay. The most I’ve spent was close to $100 NZ for a pair of handmade “The Last Footwear Company” Mary Janes. Hey, they were handmade AND Kiwi AND mary janes all at once. The last pair I bought was like 12 bucks at Walmart–cute chocolate brown espadrilles.

  5. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Most typically, I actually spend 6 bucks at a thrift store. But that ends up being wasted more often than not cuz I find out when I get them on why they were there in the first place. %OPPPPPPPPPP

  6. Wow, Shellie, you have more thrift store luck and Ross luck than I do. I think it helps that you do NOT have size 10 feet. Ross’ big shoe selection is spotty, at best… unless I want a pair of patent orange stilettos or the like.

  7. We used to go to Buster Brown too, although we were also poor. My father insisted on getting us good shoes as he had been raised believing cheap, poor quality shoes had forced his brother to have to wear braces on his legs as a child. Don’t know if it’s true but I only had two or three pairs a year myself.

    When our oldest was young we went to Stride Rite to buy his shoes. They were great. They always outlasted him. Then he got older (and got more brothers) and we thought, oh, we’ll just buy at Target. Last year we finally got tired of his shoes falling apart and have been shopping at Penney’s. They are OK, but they still don’t last like Stride Rite so we might go back there for the next shoes. (Also, Stride Rite people are better at fitting the shoes…that might make a difference in how they wear.) We will store them, if they outlast the previous wearer, for the next one.

  8. My Grandpa taught me how to clean shoes an dmy dad continued the training. My brother was the best after JROTC as he did the whole military spit shine kind of clean.

    I will primarily always go for less expensive clothes rather than shoes being that our feet are our feet. Clothes can always be dressed up if need be. As for the kids, I do check the thrift store quite frequently for shoes and I go to several different stores. Also, Marshall’s or TJ MAXX when they need something else as good shoes can be found at a lower price.

    I love shoes and my dd has that shoe gene and I am embarassed to show you how many shoes she has and she isn’t even 5 yet.

  1. Pingback: Shoe obsession. It starts young. « Only Sometimes Clever

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