Also, I know my experience is limited, but the reason I am inclined to believe that that Park Avenues can and do indeed work fine for my feet and the issue is not improper fit is because I've had a pair that had no gaping whatsoever on the left shoe, and moderate gaping on the right shoe. I've posted these pics in this thread before:
Perfect fit on the left shoe, gaping on the right. These are first quality shoes purchased directly from AllenEdmonds.com. This leads me to two possible conclusions:
1. Although my Fifth Avenues fit fine with no gaping, for some strange reason my foot is incompatible with Park Avenues even though they are made on the same last and are essentially exactly the same shoe except the Fifth Ave has punches along the toe cap. If this is the case, then I guess the properly fitting, gape-free shoe that you see on my left foot in the picture above was DEFECTIVE, and not the other 5 individual Park Avenue shoes I've had experience with that DO have the gaping issue.
Or the more likely conclusion...
2. The shoes that have the gaping issue suffer from some type of structural/manufacturing flaw that has yet to be pinpointed/fixed by Allen Edmonds, yet such shoes still pass quality control and are sold as firsts.
I guess the solution here, if I really want to get a pair of black Park Avenues that don't gape, is to wait until I can get to an AE retail store in a few weeks and try on every single pair in my size until I find a good pair. Hopefully the sales rep would have some patience. I'd still be disappointed though that I had to pass on the great price of $215 on seconds currently being offered by the Jville store.