Okay, lets dismiss this claim:
Is the number of seconds indicative of keen eyed quality control personnel or of sloppy workmanship?
And again lets think about numbers:
90+ Size options
Multiple Colors per Model
Consider the numbers, seriously, there are tons of variations in a particular shoe, is it really that unconscionable that there are what seems to be a decent number of readily available seconds?
I own four pairs of seconds and can only identify a flaw in one of them, which suggests tight quality control standards. I have never seen a flawed pair of firsts when shopping for AEs.
Speaking of limited stock in 2nds... I missed the Black Friday blowout during which some people on this forum secured Long Branches for $99 because there was no stock in my 11E. I stopped by the Shoe Bank yesterday to see if the situation had changed. It had not, but I tried on a pair of 10.5EEEs that fit surprisingly well--just a little pressure along my left big toe. As AE has no stock of 11E firsts, either, I can only guess whether they would fit better.
I remember someone posting here the precise increments/measurements of size and width increases but cannot relocate it. Holding the 10.5EEE Long Branches sole-to-sole with my 11E PAs and Leeds, it's hard to discern a difference. If I had purchased these at $99, I'm certain I'd be satisfied with the fit. Knowledge that I missed this sale is somehow making the slight pressure more noticeable. Any relevant experience on fits across these lasts to offer?