Nordstroms will do something more for you. Call the shoe manager and ask him to check his storewide inventory on the sizes you want to try on. They will make that extra effort to actually pull inventory from any store in the country so that you can come in locally to try the item on (whether it be shoes, suits, or anything). Don't give up. Yes, that is outstanding. Good catch for both size, fit, and price. Thanks for the encouragement, Doc. I am due for my exam next month and can't wait. I have been blessed with great doctors in Montana. If you ever get here around July, I'll leave the light on for you after the sunset at 10:30 pm As you and others may have discovered, I am a bit of a novice still learning about the AE shoes that I purchased years ago (and recently). But the AE Longbranch and Dalton boots in Cafeskin has a great light brown I like - and although I understand the calfskin may be more forgiving in adapting to my feet, they may have to be cared for more than the shell version. But as you say, if the shell tends to darken - then I guess my love affair with the calfskin remains ongoing. You have a good picture of it - and before you pay for any return, may I suggest you privately email the photo to Kirby at the Hangerproject? I have spoken to his staff several times, and they have some great products that can vastly improve on the gash - where it can barely be noticed. And, I am also reminded of my father who (like you) was stationed overseas in three wars (WW1, WW2, and Korea) - and when I opened all of his military trunks after he passed on - I discovered a treasure trove of leather goods - blemishes and all - from the times he served around the world. I would not trade them for anything. Your own story of being stationed overseas may not seem like a journal ready to pass on - but it will be a wonderful story for your children and grandchildren to say your shoes were delivered to the far side of the planet at a time when you anticipated some relief from the day to day routine of serving your country - and you found one shoe that needed extra tender care to make it "right". I spent nearly two hours the other day on one shoe, a Sanford, making the effort to save it. What drove me to stay with it was that I wanted to learn "how to do it". My journey of saving a leather shoe is nothing like I have ever done in my professional life. I encourage you to rethink returning them for now - and explore the remedies available to help this shoe along the way. I have seen the "before photo" and I can wait for the "after photo".