I always pushed our baseball team’s to polish their shoes, it looks good, professional. Crash Davis in Bull Durham told Nuke Laloosh, you have to polish your shoes until you make the show, then you can grow fungus and the press will think you are colorful.

So while stumbling along Canal St (kind of chinatown?) in NYC in between meetings I walked into a few hole in the wall shoe shops. I found one particularly interesting with my favorite brand, Kenneth Coles. KC’s cost a lot in SF like $150 a pop. I was wearing the same KC’s I bought in HK in 2002, newly polished, but the heals were slanted and I’ve been looking for a new pair of the old version. I’m bow legged and my heals wear out on the outside.

The shoes were priced at $70-$80. I couldn’t believe it. I checked Zappos on my iPhone and they are pricing at $125 (I think). I kept prying; these have to be fake, knockoffs. I couldn’t find anyway to figure this out. They passed all the KC tests – solid soles, strong leather, and shoe strings that you could pull a horse with. I asked the lady, how these can be so cheap. She said, well it depends where you buy them. Then I flashbacked to econ 101, discretionary pricing – pricing a product depending on the area or wealth of the consumer. Is Canal Street that different from Times Square? The store was run by HKese so that means it was a rip-off or they actually had a good deal. I was putting the odds on the latter. I also realized that they weren’t the new editions but a year or two old so I thought that factored in.

So what did I do? I bought two, turned in my old shoes for a new pair and got a cool brown/black pair to go alongside. So 2 shoes for the price of 1 in SF. I just hope they are real – please don’t tell me I was duped. So far, I think they are. KC’s break in tough, they give me blisters so I think they are real. Conversely, fake shoes give me blisters too. I bought a few pairs in China.

My hometown, Greenville, SC, native, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson used to get terrible blisters on his feet because of new shoes. He knew they were good because they gave him blisters and after he broke them in they would be great. So in the middle of games he would take them off because the blisters hurt too bad, that is how he got the nickname “Shoeless”. Anything that is good breaks in tough, e.g. a good baseball glove takes forever to break in but when they do it fits the intricacies of your hand so exactly. I’d think that also goes for a lot of other things in life like relationships and good deals.

Let’s hope my KC’s are for real.

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