The summer is a significant sale season. We are less likely to be in the shops because we are on holiday or just wanting to be out in the sun (when there is some). In addition, retailers need to shift summer season stock to make way for their autumn range. The result is the tried and tested summer sale. Virtually every high street retailer is at it.
Sales cut both ways. For people like me seeking to Avoid Paying Full Price we wait until these moments to shop. However, it also means that we are more likely to buy something that we don’t really need in a moment of weakness.
Retailers aren’t fools. They know that many of us will find irresistible the opportunity to purchase something that we’ve been interested in if it’s suddenly available at half price. The idea of both getting a bargain and the items we’ve wanted is like kryptonite; at the very least it can make us weak at the knees.
I had that experience yesterday. Needed to run a couple of errands in town (not clothing related). Errand 1 was opposite Jones Bootmaker, who are having a sale. No big deal there. The sale has been on for weeks. However, as I was passing I always pause to look in the window. That’s when I spotted that one of their best shoetree models had been further reduced; it was now down to half price.
Jones have no fewer than 5 shoetree models. Their range begins with the Executive, an unvarnished wood shoetree which is not very well shaped. If you don’t have any shoetrees and wish to get started cheaply this might be for you, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Next up is their single tube, Cedar, at £25. This is a decent enough tree in unvarnished cedar. Unvarnished cedar is excellent material because the unvarnished wood absorbs moisture from the shoe more readily and cedar is a natural deodoriser. However, it’s from their mid range onwards that it begins to get interesting.
Jones’ midrange model is the Metro. It’s a black solid wood single tube shoetree, at £35. However, it’s been discounted to £15 for over a year now and represents great value. It is fully lasted so it shapes not just the vamp (front) of the shoe but also the heel. However, it is shaped on a narrow last so will work best in narrow shaped shoes but less well if you have wide shoes.
For wider shoes you’ll need the Diplomat, an unvarnished cedar double tube tree at £38. Its double tube gives it solidity and stability and its shape and springs means that it will keep leather taut. It is also fully lasted so that it keeps the whole shoe in shape. That it is made of unvarnished cedar makes it even better.
Top of the range is the Albany which is a solid wood, fully lasted varnished shoetree at £45. That it is varnished makes it less moisture absorbent. However, if you have wider shoes or those with a higher instep this is a great shoetree for helping your shoes keep their shape.
Most of my shoetrees come from Jones’ latter 3 models and the Diplomat is my preferred tree. The rest have come from online retailer Cathcart Elliott. However, as you might expect I‘ve never paid full price for any of my trees. Summer is a great time to get shoetrees at half price from Jones whilst Cathcart Elliott’s eBay shop is where they put their discounts.
So there I was looking at this Diplomat tree which was now down to £19. It is difficult to get a double tube tree in unvarnished cedar for under £20 so that this represented very good value was not in doubt.
Jones themselves I suspect recognise this as their prices have been creeping upwards. My first Diplomats (and indeed my first shoe trees) were purchased in the Jones summer sale of 2010 at £17.25. Last summer the price was £18; this summer it is £19.
The critical question was not whether the Diplomats represented good value. Nor was it whether I could use another pair of shoetrees. Hello? Rather it was whether I actually needed another pair.
Tricky question this. Once your shoetrees reach half the number of your shoes then you have enough. You only really need shoe trees in the 24–48 hours immediately after wearing your shoes to draw out the moisture and to help them regain their shape. So on this basis I have more than enough shoetrees.
However, shoe anoraks know that keeping shoetrees in your shoes whenever they are not being worn helps shoes keep their shape and minimises creasing. It’s one of the reasons that new shoes usually come with rolled up paper stuffed down them.
So, ideally, A Shoetree For Each Pair is what one would be aiming for. I’m afraid I fall into this category for my formal shoes. For casual shoes I don’t bother. Moreover, the collector in me really does get a little kick out of seeing my shoe collection all neatly arranged with shoetrees inserted.
However, adding £20 or so to the price of each pair of shoes does get expensive really quickly. For this reason alone I do have one or two pairs of formal shoes which do not have their own shoetrees. However, this is a situation that I hope to rectify at some point.
All of this is a very longwinded way of explaining why I found myself in a bit of a dilemma at the Jones shop window yesterday, having a kryptonite moment of weakness. A Diplomat for £19 represented great value and I knew that they would not have many in my size for long. So if I was going to buy them then I needed to move swiftly. Moreover, 19 quid would hardly break the bank would it?
On the other hand, I had already had a very similar conversation with myself only last week when My Favourite Gentlemen’s Outfitters announced its summer sale. As a result my budget was already stretched with other things and it can only stretch thus far. £19 spent here simply meant it was not available to be spent elsewhere. You can only spend it once. Was this a priority? I knew what the answer was but to be honest I really fancied those trees. I had already iddntified which shoe I would put it in.
So what to do? I don’t like to miss out on a great bargain and it will be months before the price falls this low again. But equally I don’t want to exceed my budget this year as I have done in past years and it is impulsive decisions like this one, each one individually insignificant, but collectively they add up, which lead inevitably to overspending.
Unable to resolve my dilemma I thought ‘Let me go run my second errand and whilst I’m doing that I can think this through a little more. Once I’ve stopped hyperventilating I’m sure I’ll be able to think more clearly.’
So off I trotted and completed my errand by which time I had decided. I was buying it. Better to have it in my possession and later to think better of it, than to wish I had bought it but miss the chance.
So I retraced my steps to Jones and asked for a Diplomat shoetree in size 12/46. She returned a few moments later: ‘Sorry sir, we are out of stock in your size.’
After all that agonising and moral dilemma resolving I expected to feel a little frustrated or at the very least disappointed. Curiously what I felt above all was, relieved.
Before she tried to sell me something else I fled from the pits of temptation, like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife. If you’ve seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat you’ll get it. If not Google it.
When kryptonite’s about sometimes its best just to run and hide.