Factory 2nds are shoes that came out of the manufacturing process with something slightly wrong with them. A scratch here, a wonky stitch there, and/or perhaps a wrinkle in the leather over yonder. Allen Edmonds makes a point of saying nothing is structurally wrong with these shoes. The “something” that’s wrong is limited to the looks-department.
When a pair is declared to be a Factory 2nd, it gets the “F2” stamp on the sole,
and off they go to The Shoebank (the original location being in an old bank building).
Yet these shoes are still destined for the Island of Misfit Toys. And just like the Misfit Toys, they are not without value. But Allen Edmonds has determined that some choosy consumers would see the defect, and decline to buy at full, or, a standard sale price.
What can I buy from AE’s Shoebank? What models do they stock?
Inventory won’t be consistent since these are basically “scratch and dent“/less-than-perfect models. Sizes, colors, designs, and widths will all be scattered.
Yes they have classics.
Size/Width selection can fluctuate, but all of the above had
at least a decent selection of common sizes/widths at post time.
Often even the most foundational models (like their cap toe Park Avenue) will have quite a bit of stock. You’ll also see odd looking things that just didn’t seem to sell, or out of season designs that aren’t of the moment that they need to move along. It’s a mish-mash hodgepodge of footwear miscellany. A goulash of oxfords, loafers, and galoshes. … if they made galoshes. They don’t. Yet. But if they did, you bet there’d be some Factory 2nds!
How do I know what the “small aesthetic flaw” is with a pair I want to buy?
Short answer: You don’t. There’s no way they’d have the resources to photograph each pair. It’s a real gamble. But their site says:
The most common imperfections in our Factory Seconds are scuffs, scratches or color variations in the leather uppers that either occur naturally in the hides or happen during the manufacturing process. Other typical flaws include slightly misaligned stitching, superficial defects in the welt and shoes that are sent back from our stores in shopworn condition.”
So it’s not totally “we screwed up at the factory” stuff. Which makes sense. Because in order to generate the level of inventory The Shoe Bank usually has, they’d have to be running a pretty unhinged factory.
There’s a thin pull/scrape/”run” (a-la pantyhose?) in the elastic goring on the right boot.
Can’t see it in most lighting conditions. Pulled on it. Seems superficial/not structurally weak.
Sometimes you unbox a pair of Factory 2nds and you have to look long and hard for the flaw. The “imperfection” could be laughably tiny/virtually unnoticeable.
Sometimes you see the imperfection immediately.
Again. It’s a gamble.
Deepish wrinkle in the leather on the back left achilles.
The Dreaded $25 Restocking Fee
BUT HERE’S THE CATCH: Allen Edmonds, understandably, doesn’t want a bunch of people ordering Factory 2nds and then returning them because they’re unhappy with what has made them Factory 2nds. So there’s a $25 “restocking fee” for any returned Factory 2nds. If they show up and they’re a real disaster in your eyes, you could be out $25. But you just don’t really know what the cosmetic screw up is until the package arrives and the shoes are in your hands.
They used to (sometimes) wave the restocking fee if you could get them over to a physical brick and mortar location for the return. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. You can return them in store, but nowhere in their policy does it say that an in person return is rewarded by waving the restocking fee. It’s $25 to return them. Period. And frankly that makes sense. Because imagine the financial chaos that would ensue if they didn’t.
All looks well on this pair from above.
Still crafted in Wisconsin, still Goodyear welted, still recraftable.
What’s a “good” price for Factory 2nds?
Here’s what I think most would consider to be “good/great” prices on various types of AE factory 2nds. And note that this is for the still Handcrafted in Port Washington Wisconsin stuff, not any newish imported models. Don’t get me wrong, some of the new “imported” models can be just fine. But let’s keep it to the ol’ “put together in the USA” shoes for now.
- Timeless Oxfords (Park Ave., Strand, Etc.) $230ish
- Timeless Boots (Dalton, Liverpool) $280ish
- More “Unique” Models (design attempts to stay trendy, odd colors, etc.) $180 or less
This is probably about what you can see during big sale events (extra 20% – 30% off, or something like that). Not always, not all models, but this can be where they end up if you keep an eye out for sales… or read a website that does that for you.
That said, prices fluctuate all the time. Someone could get a one-off dynamite pair of Park Avenues or Strands for $200 or less. You could get awesome boots for $240. But you could also get a serious dud at one of the target prices seen above.
Full retail for 1st quality is $495. Sales on 1st quality drops them under $400.
These Factory 2nds were $273.80 during an additional 30% off sale.
So should I take the risk?
I own two pairs of Factory 2nds. Both Liverpool Chelsea boots. A walnut pair purchased six years ago (still going strong), and now this pair in dark chili. I honestly don’t know what made the walnut Liverpools 2nds quality. I’ve never found the blemish. And this new, additional, dark red pair? I’m happy with what I got for the price. That wrinkle on the back of the left boot doesn’t bug me, and the snag/”run” in the elastic is superficial (to me) and doesn’t feel like it’s going to spread, tear, or get worse over time.
I feel like I’ve been lucky with my Factory 2nds purchases. You might not be so lucky. And that’s the game.