This Needs To Be Discussed: Children’s Shoes

Can we just talk about the INSANITY that is the price of children’s shoes?

Because last weekend I was thisclose to thinking it was actually rational to spend $40 on a pair of CLEARANCE priced shoes for my 3 year old who will outgrow them in 4 months. But then? I remembered that I can’t remember the last time I spent even close to that on a pair of shoes for ME, a grown woman who will wear them FOREVER… or at least keep them in her closet forever, as evidenced by the pile of shoes in my “shoe room,” as Kendall calls it, that I nearly kill myself on every day.

Oh, sure, they have “growing feet” that need “special support” and “flexible insoles” and all that other bullshit. The children’s shoe industry has us by the balls, friends.

Okay, let me clarify that a little. The shoe industry has parents of children with girthy feet by the balls. Because those of you who birthed tots with dainty feet that don’t look at all like dinner rolls can get by with the $12 sandals at Target. Meanwhile, I have to spend more than I do on date night (that one time that happened) with my husband on a pair supposedly on clearance.

Seriously. She could kill small dogs with those feet.

Sure, I’ve known all this for a while, and I use the tricks like buying them at the outlet store or looking for just the right XXW size at consignment sales, which is about as easy as finding a raisin in a poopy diaper, but I have scored a few times… with the shoes, not the raisin… that was an odd analogy that has never actually played out in real life.

Now, though, I have two with Yabba-Dabba-Do feet (as coined by Aunt Kelly), and even the “sale” prices x2 are a little extreme.

Honestly, I’m mainly bothered by the PRINCIPAL of it all. They are shoes. For children. And I’m quite confident children don’t need this fancy-schmancy technology to learn to walk properly so much that they can justify their prices. Look at all of us! Quite capable of the walking thing as grown ups… when we are sober, AND I BET MOST OF US DIDN’T EVEN WEAR SHOES.

I mean, I could be wrong, I guess. We could have a future generation of very proficient walkers on our hands thanks to their medical miracle shoes, but I’m willing to take that chance. Who’s going to need to walk 10 years from now anyway? Aren’t we all just going to turn into floating blobs like on Wall-E who make computers do everything for us? I will pay $40 to buy my kids’ because THAT shit is important for their future. Not shoes.

And while I’m on my little tirade, let me just address the RACKET that is calling $6 off a $45 pair of shoes a CLEARANCE SALE. No. That is not even a SALE, fuckers. That is, like, what? 12% off??

Hey, folks! Come on down and take advantage of our HUGE clearance sale! A whopping TWELVE PERCENT OFF! Take the money you save and spend it at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels next door… on a pretzel… not the lemonade, though. It won’t quite be enough to cover that. BUT! Your child will have very fancy shoes and you can console yourself knowing you got them on CLEARANCE.

I’m sorry. I need to take a few deep breaths. This is obviously a hot topic for me that is very close to my heart, which is sort of close to my wallet.

All I’m asking is for the cheap companies to make some shoes that I can shove my fat-footed children’s feet into without contemplating amputating just one of their toes to make them fit. I don’t WANT to give the expensive, highly “advanced” shoe people my money. I simply have very little choice.

And for those of you wondering about the store I speak of, I’m not going to name names, but I will say I strode rite out of there when I came to my senses and ordered 2 pairs for less than the cost of one of their “clearance” priced pairs from with a coupon I got from Blissdom. BOOM.

Kendall is 3 years 10 months old and Leyna is 14 months old


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  1. Dude, nothing pisses me off more than a faux clearance sale. I blame consumers…we’re too lazy to do the math to realize 12% is not clearance!

    I haven’t had to buy shoes yet for the babe…I’ve been gifted all sorts of cute styles. My biggest problem though is getting the damn shoes to stay on her feet. She scrunches up her toes and works her feet out of them in about point five seconds.

  2. This is good to know, considering my child has incredibly fat feet. We bought his first pair at Target — one of the soft-soled pairs. But if they didn’t have elastic in them, there’s no WAY they would fit. I got some NBs in a bigger size at our local consignment sale this past weekend, and I’m hoping beyond hope they will fit him when the time comes.

    I think that particular brand of shoes does go on sale on Zulily or Totsy from time to time, but I could be mixing it up with one of the other popular/pricey brands.

  3. I just dropped $82 on my triplets’ first shoes. See Kai Run, would you like to spank me again? Oh, you’ll wait a few months? THANKS SO MUCH.

    In all honesty, though, the shoes I picked out were $22/pair on clearance and have the American Something Fancy of Podiatrists’ seal of approval.

    Good shoes are worth it to me right now while they’re forming their muscles and learning to walk. It’s important because I have high arches that were never addressed, causing a world of hurt from age 12 on courtesy of ankle muscles that have never been properly used. Good shoes would have solved that problem at the start.

    • $22 for shoes that may make my kids feet hurt less in the future, thus increasing their laundry-putting-away productivity I’m okay with. $40 shoes, I am not.

  4. I hear you. I have a hard time even justifying $20 for a pair of Tarjay dress shoes for my now 4yo who is already in size 12! I *know* they’ll get worn once, maybe twice if I’m lucky. At the other store you spoke of, I can usually find some cute clearance shoes for around $25 that last the whole season. Though the shop I go to does sell more than just their brand so maybe that’s why I have some luck. I drool over Keane’s for my kiddo but choke on the $60 price tag. :/

  5. My kids now have ” average” feet (Gavin’s were dinner rolls when he was smaller), but my nephew has the feet of which you speak. His mom is FOREVER pulling her hair out and buying shoes 3 sizes bigger than he wears, just so she can cram his chubs into them and not spend a ridiculous amount of money- at the very store you were in. sigh. Maybe you should start a shoe company for kids who just happen to be the descendants of Fred Flinstone.

  6. My daughter had feet that were shaped more like the box than the shoe when she was a baby. The only shoes that fit her chubbster little feet were See Kai Run. She had 1 pair of sandals and 1 pair of Mary Janes. We made those bastards fit for a year. Luckily her feet grow SO SLOWLY. Seriously. She’s nearly 7 and still wears toddler size 11. 🙂 But I highly recommend See Kai Run. Stride Rite is a rip off.

  7. We could spread this topic to clothes too. $40 jeans, Gap, Really? For a 3 year old?! On another note, I’ve found that a few brands are worth the money in shoes. My preschooler gets a pair of Saltwater sandals every year for her bday in May. She gets them a size larger and they have made it through two summers still in great condition (thank goodness because you KNOW I won’t be buying new ones for the second girl) and they work for most occasions. Crocs last a while too and we just discovered Toms as well and I love them so far. My scheme is to have family get them as gifts every year because I really can’t stomach $30+ on a pair of tiny little shoes. So annoying. But then I’m usually shocked when anything for the kids is more than $10 really.

  8. You absolutely must learn to love the Strode Rite out of there outlet at Grapevine mills mall. It’s saves my life buying for 3 boys!!

  9. Have you tried Converse Chuck Taylors or Classic Vans slip-ons? What about good ol’ Old Navy flip-flops? Those are our 3 go-to’s (however I have mini children…like our almost 4 year old just went up to toddler size 8). Also? I get the majority of their shoes at Goodwill. $2 for almost new Chuck Taylor’s and Van’s that were originally like 40 freaking bucks…I can do that!

  10. I was lucky with Ian, he can wear just about anything. Ollie isn’t wearing shoes yet but it looks like I might be able to reuse all the shoes I over paid for on him too. I over paid for cuteness though and only one pair is from the store that shall not be named, my mother bought those. They were only $25.

  11. I am obsessed with Pediped shoes. I admit it. However, I have never paid full price for a single pair. I have always shopped their clearance sales and try to only buy the shoes that are under $30. I think the most I have paid is $32 and the least is $15. When I find a great deal, I stock up on future sizes (hence her closet is stocked with shoes boxes). My husband thinks I am crazy…but when I realize what I get for $24 at Payless, I am happy to spend the extra money for the quality I get with Pediped.

  12. My daughter has skinny feet, but she hates socks and shoes. Now she wears crocs as long as there is no snow on the ground. Other than that the shoes come off as soon as she steps in the house. I also get shoes a size to big. My daughter also wears her brothers old shoes. Now for my son and his man sized running shoes-$120 for his last pair. He doesn’t have a pair of dress shoes he wears his old running shoes.

  13. Try Etsy and Ebay. Etsy for a handmade alternative (and since you can talk to the maker of the shoes you can ask, can you make this in a wide variety?) And Ebay to see if you can find those $40 shoes used. (Consignment too). Kids that age aren’t in them long enough to wear them out.

  14. Fat feet are a double-edged sword, my friend. Cutest thing ever … then you have to buy them shoes! My trusty resource? Livie & Luca’s 50% off sales. I buy 2 pairs for the price of 1. And I do my best to make those suckers last.

  15. TheNextMartha on

    When you son hits the age when he needs “real” gym shoes? New Balance. You’re welcome. Also? Shoe shopping is nearly the most stressful shopping with him because of his wide widths. He’s 9 and now wears a mens size in wide. WTF shoe people.

  16. I only recently started putting shoes on my kid and she’s nearly 17 months old! Up until a couple months ago her feet were as wide and tall as they were long and nothing would fit, not even the Robeez that were recommended by everyone I know for fat footed babies. I can’t justify spending more than $20 for a pair of shoes for her, thankfully I have been very lucky at the local Value Village and got her a bunch of pairs in various sizes for like $6 each so I’m set for a good while.

  17. Ugh. Yes. This. All of it. My 12 month old just got his first pair of shoes and those fat feet cost so much! I almost passed out. Taking notes on all the commentary here – we can’t be shelling out $40+ every 4 months for damn baby shoes! 🙁

  18. Luckily my Big Foot is a male so I don’t have to buy as many shoes. He got his first pair at 14 Months and now at 21 months he is on his 2nd pair. He just wears them everyday, they match his outfits good enough. We buy from Stride Rite, and I was happy to find them because I didn’t know where else to find shoes that wide. And they seem to last a long time. His feet are shaped exactly like his dads so I don’t think we will be outgrowing this. We also didn’t put my son in shoes until he was walking well. He just wore socks since I didn’t let him walk in stores anyway. Plus, I read somewhere that it is best for them to be barefoot at this age.

  19. My baby is nine months old – and it is winter – and I have yet to even buy a pair of shoes because I like to play with her bare feet. 🙂 Seriously, people always ask me where her shoes are and I always think “why does my non-walking baby really need shoes anyway?” And really even after she starts to walk she does not need shoes until she is actually going to be walking while we are out. I mean if she CAN walk but is being carried – no shoes necessary. And all the people who think my baby needs. shoes can just keep their opinions to themselves. 🙂

  20. I wait until Stride Ride has the buy one get one sale and then shop the clearance shoes. Last time I stocked up on the next five sizes for my eldest and I think I spent 80. I also stopped buying cute sandals and just get each girl and pair of sneakers. I figure what’s the point of having all of that technology in a fancy sandal.

  21. We are having shoe problems right now because Brigham’s feet are a little, um, wide, shall we say? Honestly? I usually end up at payless! They have a “wide” selection. My only complaint is that they make some more stylish options instead of all Cars, Disney and Star Wars. I mean, come on, just because they’re kids doesn’t mean we want cartoons on everything.they.wear.

    I’m way too cheap to shop at “strode right out of there” store. However, they do have an outlet store. It’s 30 minutes away from us though.

  22. Gah, the shoes! It really is ridiculous. I just bought my daughters first 2 pairs of shoes this weekend. How can something with so little material be so expensive?

    More importantly, I absolutely NEED to know where you got that tutu skirt that Leyna is wearing in the picture!!

  23. I was on Stride Rite’s website the other day, looking for a more “quality” shoe for my toddler’s ever-expanding feet, and when I clicked over to the clearance section, I was all, “WTH, this is only $4 less than the regular priced shoes!?!”

    And nope, my toddler still doesn’t have new shoes yet. I guess I’m waiting for someone to drop them off at my doorstep.

  24. I agree! But I can’t find any anywhere else! I tried Famous Footwear, but even those didn’t fit after going up a size. I can only find shoes at that ONE store for my kids’ fat, chunky feet…

  25. this is why I buy shoes at walmart. on clearance. actual clearance for like $3 a pair at the end of the season and pray that they fit the next year. and why my girl wears boys shoes like 99% of the time. The bad news is that she has SLENDER feet. I can’t farkin imagine what I’m going to do with the robust cutie that has MY feet that will need shoes soon. Also? it has been MEDICALLY proven that it is better for a kid to go WITHOUT shoes until they learn to walk. stride your arses back to sock section and leave it at that!

  26. And this is why I refused to buy my kid any shoes at all until she was one. She was barefoot or in socks. It’s not like she was walking outside.

    I have picked up a few *actual* clearance pairs (i.e. $5/pair) at Kohl’s and Target for this summer and hope to get them to last until fall. Or she might end up wearing socks and sandals. What? She could totally pull it off.

    Unrelated: HOW CUTE are those chubby feet with that ruffley skirt?

  27. Oh my gosh you do make me laugh, I love my daily dose of your sarcasm and outright truth. We have a striderite outlet near us that is not as bad if you can find one by you

  28. Ah, I feel your pain. My friend used to have her relatives send up those retro-leather lace up white patent shoes from Mexico City for my fat-footed child. I could hardly fit his foot into anything. Hmmm, perhaps I’m in the wrong market — I should be selling children’s shoes!

  29. Stride rites are the only ones that fit my girthy foot toddler too. I also think good shoes are important so I deal with it and he wears target and kohls everything else. I actually went to SR last week and had a pair of athletic sandals all picked out when the clerk let it slip their buy one get one 50%off would be this week. So I’m just waiting til I get the email…

  30. Jill, you crack me up! I so enjoyed this post. And the picture is adorable. You are right! The cost of children’s shoes is outrageous. Thanks for making me laugh though. I needed that!

  31. We have had fantastic luck with (Zappos clearance site). There are good deals to be found, and I check regularly for wider sizes and when I see them, snatch something a size or two up.

  32. Pingback: Sometimes A Girl Just Needs Some Frills | Baby Rabies

  33. My daughter has pretty wide feet. It seems like they’ve slimmed out a bit lately, but we always had issues getting her affordable shoes. Anyway, try Nordstrom Rack. Not sure if you have those in Texas, but they often have a fairly good selection of shoes for kids. I got a pair of Sketchers light up shoes that are usually about $50 for $25.

    I wouldn’t bat an eye at spending $40 on a pair of shoes for either of my kids but my husband thinks it’s insane. If you work it out, it’s $10 a month for a cute, comfortable, and essential item. I’m sure we all spend more than that at Starbucks.

  34. Yeah, this is the reason I let my kid go barefoot pretty much always. There’s no expensive shoe that is quite so good for developing feet as going barefoot is … and it is a HECK of a lot cheaper. I have one pair of “backup” shoes that are not at all ergonomic, but as long as the weather is nice and we’re not going to be hiking on broken glass, he goes barefoot.

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