Thursday, February 14, 2019

Among the Things That Have Become Better Over Time ...

... are cheap shoes.

Remember the old Traxx tennis shoes they used to sell at Kmart, circa the early 1980s?

Those things were the bane of my existence.

Hitting junior high and high school, naturally I wanted what something like what the Kool Kids wore (except that I specifically didn't want Nikes because that seemed too much like playing "keep up with the Joneses -- Adidas, maybe, or Asics).

But my family, while not poor exactly, definitely had to remain on the frugal side. Which meant I got school pants from Monkey Ward instead of Levis or Jordaches or whatever. And often shirts from Goodwill. And those Traxx shoes.

My recollection is that they ran about $7.99, but let me jack that down to $4.99 just to be on the safe side. IIRC, the first pair of Nikes I bought (because I was told to bring tennis shoes to boot camp in 1985) were about $40, or $93.57 in current dollars.

$4.99 in 1980 dollars comes to $15.24 in current purchasing power. $7.99 would come to $24.41.

Those $5-8 Traxx tennis shoes started coming apart within weeks, sometimes within days, of putting them on for the first time. Usually the first sign was the sole peeling away at the toe. If the damn things lasted six months, by the end of it the soles were flapping at both ends and the dark blue fabric had faded to light blue and was disintegrating. I hated them because they were ugly. I hated them because they were uncomfortable. And I hated them because they made me look like someone whose parents either couldn't or wouldn't clothe him decently.

I have three pairs of shoes right now that I paid $20 or less for.

One is a pair of Walmart store brand pull-on shoes ($9.97, IIRC) that seem to be promoted as a sort of after-game slipper for athletes. I've had them for three years, I think. They're starting to show their age, but they're also still completely intact. They get worn around the house, while doing yard work, etc.

The second is a pair of lace-up tennis shoes that I bought via Amazon for (once again, IIRC) $17.xx. They're more than a year old, probably about two years old. I bought them for exercise (walking and running), but wear them all the time when I go out for anything but don't want to dress up. They still look and feel pretty much new. I'd be surprised if they have less than 300 miles on them.

The third is a pair of suede work boots, another Walmart special. I paid $19.97 for them three months ago when I was getting ready to head for the Great White North to help my brother move house. Now, in addition to the Traxx tennis shoes, I usually got store brand Mork'n'Mindy style hiking boots (the new ones look a lot like that) for the winters when I was a kid, and I think they ran $12-15 ($36.66-$45.82).  So far, the boots at about half the real price seem to be a lot more durable, although I haven't worn them as much in a like period of time as I did the ol' Mork'n'Mindys.

I don't like to write in the OMG! Capitalism! vein, but I do have to admit that when it comes to footwear, you can get a lot better gear for a lot less now than you could 35-40 years ago.

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