Allen Edmonds is one of the last American-made shoe manufacturers, and they have by far provided the best customer service from any company I have dealt with to date. There’s an interesting saying about men’s shoes…A $100.00 pair of shoes will last you a year, a $200.00 pair of shoes will last two years, a $300.00 pair of shoes will last a lifetime. But first allow me to explain the theory that has led me to purchase an American made pair of shoes
In the multiple careers I’ve had in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to work with very successful people, and unfortunately the very unsuccessful. One of the most fascinating things is the difference between the two classes when it comes to purchasing items. Most successful people research the item they are thinking of buying, decide on which one will work best for their particular circumstances, save the money to buy it, and then buy it. As a result of this process they usually end up buying a luxury item. Because of that, they usually end up with a quality item that lasts a long time. The less successful? Well they’re kind of stupid.
Instead of saving their money to buy a decent product they go to Walmart and buy a piece of crap…often times they haven’t even saved up for that. The item is of low quality, doesn’t last long, and quickly wears out or breaks. Think about it…when’s the last time you saw a successful person shopping for a TV in Walmart?
The problem is no one has ever taught us how to spend money on things properly. We seem to equate thrift and frugality with buying the cheapest thing. These are, however, often times mutually exclusive concepts; the cheapest item is rarely the best choice. Years, and years of this conditioning, however, is why virtually all of our consumer goods are now manufactured overseas. I have learned, however, that buying quality items, and often luxury items has saved me money many times over. The most apparent example of this is my purchase of a frying pan many years ago. I enjoy cooking and needed a new frying pan, but couldn’t grasp the concept of buying a quality one for $79.00. So I bought a cheap one at Walmart for $19.99. And, of course, I congratulated myself over only paying a quarter of the cost of the more expensive one at Bed Bath and Beyond. That was until the pan warped, and the Teflon began to flake off. No problem, I thought, I’ll just buy a new one, and sure enough a bit less than a year later the same thing happened. Believe it or not, this exercise continued for the next five years….and the sad part is that I was completely oblivious to the sheer idiocy I was involved in. Finally I decided to give the expensive frying pan a try; that was about six years ago and I still have it. Also it still looks as good as it did when I first bought it. Lesson learned.
And this is what brings me back to Allen Edmonds. Now this review is not directly intended to be a review of a particular model of shoe, or of Allen Edmonds shoes entirely, but rather the fantastic service I received from this company. I have to wear dress shoes at my job. I don’t necessarily do a lot of walking everyday, but I’ve noticed that my dress shoes will tend to wear out after about 10 months. I usually spend about $100.00 on a pair of dress shoes. I was, however, quickly discovering that I was back to the whole frying pan thing again, but this time with shoes. I decided to try something different and that was how I came across Allen Edmonds. AE’s as they’re referred to are one of the last American made shoe companies and have been around since 1922. Make no mistake, these shoes are not cheap, but they are built to last. These are welted shoes not glued shoes. This means when the sole eventually wears out, the owner can send them in and for around 100 bucks, AE will replace the sole, re-stretch the leather and return the shoes to you looking nearly brand new.
Now I know it’s difficult to convince someone to spend several hundred dollars on a pair of shoes, unless of course they’re Air Jordans, you’ve been standing in a line waiting for them all night, you’ve multiple tattoos, and you wear your pants below your buttocks. For the rest of us, though, it’s not easy. My first experience, therefore, was in the local AE outlet store. This is a store which sells factory seconds which had some defect which prevented the shoe from being sold as a first quality product, but not serious enough to warrant disposing of the shoe.
I bought two pairs that first time but after wearing one of the pairs (slip on) for a week, my feet were really bothering me. Things didn’t improve the following week so I called AE’s customer service and explained the situation. I expected the usual tale of about how I had worn the shoes so there was nothing they could do. But that’s not what happened. Instead, they asked me a series of questions, deduced that I had been measured wrong, offered to send me the correct size, and even upgraded me to a first quality shoe all at their expense…AWESOME!!! Now that’s the classic type of American customer service your grandparents tell you about. Clearly, these guys know they’re selling a luxury item. So thinking that was it, I went about my usual routine, but I didn’t receive my shoes the next week, or the week following that. Before I could call AE, they called me first and apologized for not sending my shoes yet, the representative explained that they didn’t have my size in stock and that they had to submit an order to the production plant, and they had only just returned from their final inspection. Now here’s the kicker…I’m thinking they’ll apologize and then just send the shoes UPS ground, but no, they offer to overnight me the shoes. I told them there was no need as I had waited this long but the representative overnighted them anyway telling me that I, “Had waited long enough.” How amazing is that!?
But that wasn’t my only experience. A while after this incident one of my casual pairs started showing a discoloration in one of the pieces of leather. So what would happen this time? Would I return the shoe and wait for a manager to make a decision? Not at all. Once again I called AE and they offered to exchange the pair for me. A worn shoe with defective leather exchanged with no questions asked…amazing. From that point on, all of my dress and casual shoes are AE’s. Best of all, they’re American made. When’s the last time you wore an American made article of clothing. When’s the last time you bought a consumer product that was American made for that matter?