Where are you buying your shoes?

Maybe shopping isn’t your favorite thing, but it’s pretty much a necessity. One of the reasons people get so stressed out about shopping is because they don’t know how to pick the experience that best suits them.

We all grew up going to department stores with our parents, so naturally we continue to gravitate to them as adults. However it’s easy to feel underwhelmed when checking out a department store’s inventory. You’re likely to encounter countless brands hawking the same trend-of-the-moment designs made fast and cheap. Considering how shoddy they are, it’s surprising how much they cost. Those brands have to pass through several hands before arriving at retail, marking up the price at every stop.

Chain shoe stores that advertise savings (think DSW, outlet stores, etc…) can have some hidden jewels. When department stores and online retailers need to get rid of extra inventory, these stores buy up the inventory and sell it at a markdown. You have to sift through all the reject styles to find something of quality, and once you find it you better hope it fits because there’s a good chance they don’t have it in another size. If spending hours going through this process sounds like fun to you, go for it. But for those who would rather get in and out, boutique shoe shops may be a better option.

Boutique shops have a curated selection of styles and typically buy from high-quality vendors. You’ll also get a higher level of customer service with boutique shopping. The combination of quality, service, and the costs of running a physical store are going to reflect in the price of your shoes. However, you’ll be fitted right in the store and you can walk out with exactly what you want. If your pockets are deep enough, you can find a quality pair of shoes at a specialty boutique.

But nowadays there’s a new disruption to the shoe retail market: online stores. Without leaving your home or office you can easily browse a wide selection and search for the specifics you want. There is also more flexibility in price with online shopping. Retailers like Paul Evans source their leather shoes directly from the manufacturer in Italy, cutting out the middle man and keeping the prices reasonable for the extraordinary quality they provide. One setback with online shopping is you don’t get to try the shoe on for size; but luckily Paul Evans offers free exchanges and returns in the US so it’s easy to get the right size if it doesn’t fit on the first go round.