My new sneakers

No, those aren’t two unbaked baguettes, but my new sneakers. Despite their dull, middle-aged character, I think they’re rather special because

  1. they’re not made of leather
  2. they are made in the United States
  3. they came in size 12AA

My new, long, thin white sneakers

My nearby New Balance store got these in today and I was happy to pay $90 for them. Because I demanded certain qualities — relatively ethical manufacture and a proper fit — I had to give up the convenience of getting shoes off the shelf, a sexier style and paying bottom dollar. (Not that they’re aren’t sweatshop-made sneaks at twice the price.) Some trade-offs are worth making.

My point is not that everyone should shop like me, or only buy New Balance 811s but I would ask you to consider what you value before you buy it, and not what an advertiser thinks you should value. With a little research and some patience, you can have what you really want. Or decide you didn’t really want the thing at all.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I have to buy NB because they are the only shoes I’ve found that fit my 10 1/2EE feet with skyscraper high arches properly.

  2. While I had to make do with 11 D when I really need a 10 1/2 E I got a great deal off the shelf on New Balance 476 trail runners that were non-leather and “Made in the USA.” I’m pretty sure I would have had to pay $30 more to get a wide width pair. I’ve given serious thought to raiding my local Big 5 and Sports Authority to buy another pair for when I wear these out.

    I’d really like to find a nice pair of vegan oxfords or wing tips to wear with a suit that I can afford outside of the usual sweatshop sources.

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