Factory 2nds are shoes that came out of the manufacturing process with something slightly wrong with them. A scratch here, a wonky stitch there, and/or perhaps a wrinkle in the leather over yonder. Allen Edmonds claims nothing is structurally wrong with these shoes. The “something’s wrong” is limited to the “looks” department. Yet these shoes are, basically, destined for the Island of Misfit Toys. And just like the Misfit Toys, they are not without value! But the average choosy consumer would see the defect, and decline to buy at full, or, a standard sale price.
Factory 2nds Nomads upon arrival. Looks close to first quality!
So they get marked down even more aggressively, and are then shipped off to The IslandThe Shoebank, or one of their physical outlet stores. The Shoebank is a frustratingly charmingly 20th century operation. You have to make a phone call to make an order. Sometimes the person on the other end of the phone will describe the defect to you. But sometimes not. I’m guessing that’s not in their job description and I personally can’t bring myself to ask. Also, sometimes AE will put them up on their main site during a “flash sale,” backed by the full e-commerce machine. No phone calls. Click, Buy, Ship. And that’s where I got this recent pair of Nomad Chukkas for $149.
Ah HA! Found the defects. A couple messy stitches on the left heel, and some weird dye on the heel tab of the right.
The Dreaded $25 Restocking Fee
BUT HERE’S THE CATCH:Allen Edmonds, understandably, doesn’t want a bunch of people ordering Factory 2nds and then returning them because they’re unhappy with what has made them Factory 2nds. So they’ve added a $25 “restocking fee.” to any Factory 2nds returned through the mail. If you can hoof it to a physical outlet store? They might waive the fee for you. But for most of us who do things over the web and through the post/UPS, it’s a gamble. If they show up, and they’re a disaster, you could be out $25. But you just don’t really know what the cosmetic screw up is, until the package arrives and the shoes are in your hands.
Other than that, they’re good. Still made in Wisconsin, still Goodyear welted.
Nomads are a little lighter weight for comfort.
How bad are the defects? It depends.
And there have been some horror stories. Some, on the internet, have claimed they received Factory 2nds that were so messed up that they were shocked they were allowed to be sold at any price. But that’s the internet. What do people do on the internet? Complain and act superior. I’m not saying these shoe disasters didn’t happen, what I am saying is that the ratio of people jumping on the internet to complain vs the people logging on to say how happy they are, is grossly in favor of the former.
Ready for “chinos chukkas polo.” Autumn is fast approaching too.
What’s a “good” price for Factory 2nds?
Here’s what I think most would consider to be “good/great” prices on various types of AE factory 2nds. This is what you can see during big sale events. Not always, not all models, but with some regularity:
Timeless Oxfords (Park Ave., Strand, Cornwallis, Etc) $200ish or less
Timeless Boots (Dalton, Liverpool) $265ish or less
Independence Collection (their higher end calfskin models) $275ish or less
More “Unique” Models (Nomad series, Attempts to stay trendy, etc.) $180 or less
That said, prices fluctuate all the time. And if you get a serious dud at one of the prices above or less, don’t come whining to me. This is a gamble. Repeat, THIS. IS. A. GAMBLE.
I own two pairs of Factory 2nds. A pair of Liverpool Chelseas and the Nomad Chukkas seen in this post. I honestly don’t know what made the Liverpools 2nds quality. I’ve never found the blemish. And the Nomads at $150? I’m more than happy with what I got for the price. The couple of wonky stitches on the back heel of the left shoe doesn’t bug me, and the weird dye strip on the right heel tab will be hidden most of the time anyway. And if it’s not? Who cares.
I feel like I’ve been lucky with my Factory 2nds purchases. You might not be so lucky. And that’s the game.