I buy the great majority of my shoes online. A lot of people do, I know, but for me, it's kinda the only option. At a size 12 (13 in some styles/brands!) it's pretty much Nordstrom Rack (which I love and frequent) or online. Which, in this day and age, with what Zappos has done to the online shoe market, is fine.
So I found myself in need of some new sandals. Coming into this summer, I had two pairs of sandals, both purchased at the beginning of last summer:
Orange Clarks Spa flip flops and black Merrell Agave sandals. Both pairs are still functional, but neither thrill me. The Clarks are really bad for my feet (shoes with no support and flexible soles are plantar faciitis nightmares) and the Merrells are just kinda ugly. So, at the beginning of this summer, I hit Nordstrom Rack to look for some new sandals.
I came home with a pair of very cute 3.5 inch wedge heeled sandals in black leather from Sofft. They're great--very girly, unlike my other options, really versatile, and not too uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they also make me around 6'4". And though I'm sometimes fine with that, it's not a height I want to carry in my daily life. So I tried again.
This time, I found a coupon and searched around the online world. I ordered each of the following shoes:
Aerosoles Sun Mate, from Shoes.com, $55.20
Annie Sienna, from Zappos, $49.90
Columbia Sun Goddess, from Zappos, $34.95
Dansko Sissy, from Zappos, $110
Indigo by Clarks Abruzzo, from Zappos, $80
Indigo by Clarks Bordeaux, from Zappos, $88
I kept one pair, the Aerosoles Sun Mate. They're cute, and they were cheap. Nothing else fit, or was comfortable enough or cute enough to be worth the price. So I've been wearing the Sun Mates.
They're just as bad for my feet as the Clarks flip flops. No arch support, flexible soles. So, as summer is already winding down, I set out last night to make yet another attempt to find some reasonable sandals. This time, though, I felt less desperate, and decided to focus on cost savings, rather than just finding something that looked cute at Zappos and pushing the "Buy" button.
So I started at Zappos, because they have the best selection, descriptions, and feedback on styles. After going through many pages, I picked out the following styles:
Annie Shaw, $44.90
Chaco Switch Eco Tread, $62.10
Softwalk Torri, $94.95
The thing about Zappos is that their selection and customer service and feedback is great, but their prices sometimes aren't. So after I picked out what I wanted, I looked around for the same styles elsewhere. My first stop was 6pm.com, which is basically Zappos' clearance rack. They didn't have the Annie sandals or the Chaco flip flops, but they did have the Softwalk Torri sandals, for $66.50, and in my size! Except they only had them in white, which is not the color I wanted. So I kept looking.
Next I checked Shoes.com and Onlineshoes.com. Shoes.com had the Chacos in my size, in another color, but they were $65. Even with the 10% off coupon I found, that was only a bit cheaper than the Zappos price, and when it's that close, I'd rather go with the known quantity of Zappos customer service. Neither of the other styles were available. Onlineshoes.com had the Softwalks for the same price as Zappos, the Chacos for $64.95, and no Annie's. With another 10% off coupon, this order would have ended up a bit cheaper than Zappos, but again, when it's close, I'd rather pay for Zappos.
My last stop in comparison shopping was at Amazon.com. And that's where I hit the jackpot. The Softwalks were on sale for $47.71--half off! The Chacos were $64.99, so no savings there, but the Annie's were only $22.34--another half off! And shipping for an order over $25 was free. Now, if they don't work, I'll have to pay some return shipping, but I'll still come out ahead.
Since a lot of sandals seemed to be on sale, I kept looking around Amazon.com after I put the three pairs I'd selected in my cart. I'm glad I did, because I found another pair I loved--the gladiator sandals I'd been looking for all summer. The Indigo by Clarks Lyon, on sale for $39.76! Just to be sure, before I purchased I went back and looked for the style at Zappos, 6pm, and Shoes.com--$80; $48 and not available in my size; and not available.
The moral of the story, of course, is look around to make sure you're getting the best price--not exactly a new maxim. Also (and again, not exactly news), if you trust your taste for next year, buy sandals towards the end of the summer. Those Aerosoles I paid $55.20 for on sale in April? $50+10% off now. And clearly, if you're on the lookout for end-of-summer sandal sales, try Amazon.