Thanks J. I really lucked out with these seconds as I cannot find a reason for the mark on the sole.
I've been laughing all afternoon because the laces were the wrong choice. They are way too long and I have no idea how I came by them - I must have purchased the wrong length at the store when I picked up the shoes, and didn't really think about it until I finally looked down and thought "nope, there's no way these are right, they look like clown shoe laces. You look like a clown."
When I got home, I put them next to a set of standard-sized laces and sure enough they are at least an inch and a half longer - Clearly I have to start paying more attention in the morning.
They look great - I can't see why they'd be seconds, either. The laces look good despite the length (although I guess your lacing method also adds a bit to the length of the laces). I think I have a pair of standard laces in a similar color - maybe I'll swap them into my shell Strands too.