Favorite Shoes

I was tired. I needed new running shoes. It was hot. All in all, it was a bad combination, and I left the market feeling I had been ripped off. I paid too much for the shoes.

It was the spring of 1990, and the market was Waterside in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. We had been living in Liberia for about six months at that point. I knew that you never accepted the asking price of anything. Bargaining was a way of life.

I don’t know what it was that day. Maybe it is my aversion to clothes shopping. I went to a stall, and didn’t recognize any of the brands on display. But that didn’t matter – I wasn’t trying to be fashion conscious, I just wanted something to replace the sneakers that were falling apart.

I found a pair of black runners that felt comfortable. They were priced at $15 U.S. that was cheaper then I would pay at home. I knew I should bargain, but, as I said, I was tired. I paid the money for the no-name shoes and wore them home. Buyers regret came later.

For weeks afterward I kicked myself for paying the asking price. It wasn’t that $15 was too much, but my Scottish heritage was nagging me, telling me I had paid too much. Eventually I put the incident behind me, faded but not forgotten. I was happy with the shoes. , even if no-one I knew had ever heard of the brand, Saucony

A year later it was time to consider a new pair, as mine were showing signs of excessive use (Canadian winters can do that to shoes). Since I had really liked my “no-name” sneakers, I went online to see if anyone near me sold them. (In 1991 the Internet was in its infancy, the search engine I used was Netscape navigator.)

I was shocked to discover that what I thought were cheap shoes were listed at about $100 US online. Turns out I had inadvertently found myself a bargain. So much for my being ripped off! But it left me with a dilemma.

I’m frugal (read cheap). There was no way I was going to pay $100 for a pair of shoes, no matter how much I liked them. And I really did like them. What could I do?

The answer came by accident. As we drove to Maine for our annual beach vacation, there, in an outlet mall was a Saucony Shoe outlet. Shoes I wanted, at a price I could afford.

For a while that store met my needs I’d buy a new pair of shoes every year or two, always paying less than $30. Then they closed.

Fortunately I found another, though in a less desirable location. Now I had to drive to Kittery, Maine, a 50 mile round trip from our vacation cottage. And pay sales tax. But the price was still right.

It has been a couple of years since my last purchase, and this year my shoes will need replacing. I’m hoping for a rainy vacation morning, which makes the trip to Kittery a bit more bearable – I hate giving up beach time!

I just hope they have what I want in stock, and at a good price. With an outlet store there are no guarantees.

If they don’t have what I am looking for, maybe I’ll have to struggle with my heritage and pay full price somewhere. Or perhaps settle for a lesser shoe.

What do you think I should do?

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