You want proof that Nordstrom sold seconds during the last sale?
Go to any Allen Edmonds corporate store and ask their manager. It helps if they have a Nordstrom close by, as AE stores got some of the Nordstrom sold shoes exchanged and have first hand experience. I told a sales guy at Nordstrom how badly my strands were creased after 2 wearings and he said once the shoes are worn once there is nothing they can do. The AE manager took one look at the shoes and said they NEVER should crease that way. He exchanged the Strands even though by that time it was six months later and I wore the shoes 10 times, and the shoes weren't even purchased at AE.
A salesperson I know at Nordstrom also said they sold out quickly and they pushed AE to send whatever they had available. Many people got stuck with seconds they purchased at Nordstrom if they did not make the presale.
BTW, this was my first time in an Allen Edmonds store. I was very loyal to Nordstorm in the past but they did not have Mcallister in merlot and I did not want it in black, and the sales associate didn't care if I purchased or not because there were 10 other shoppers. I went to AE to purchase the Mcallister in merlot. I asked the sales guy at AE if the Mcallister would crease the same as my Strands and he requested for me to bring in the Strands. At no time did I ask AE to exchange the shoes. The manager offered to exhange them.
I don't want this to turn into an argument, and please don't think that I am defending Nordstrom. I have no loyalty to them, and have never purchased a single product from them. That said, your experience above does not constitute a factory second. A defect may arise in a first quality shoe, after it is sold and worn. That isn't terribly unusual. AE generally stands behind their product if this is the case. Factory seconds are defective shoes that are caught at the AE factory before they are sent out, they are then branded with a "seconds" iron, and sent to outlets or discount stores (such as Nordstrom Rack). The Allen Edmonds CEO himself said that they did not send factory seconds to regular Nordstrom stores, to dispel any rumors. It sounds to me like you are assuming that you were deliberately sold a factory second because you found a defect in a shoe that was sold as a first quality one. That's not what happened. I am well aware of the issues they had last year during the sale, and many people were dissatisfied with their shoes. However, these shoes did not have factory seconds markings on them.