Very interesting discussion. I must admit, I have not been able to read all the responses, but thought I would add in with my own story. I know that for me, I began buying "nice" dress shoes only about 5-6 years ago. Prior to that, it was cole haan loafers and one pair of black florsheim cap toes that I wore with all suits. Then, my wife stumbled into an AE outlet during one of their tent sales. She called me and said "they have a black cap toe shoe for $99, do you want me to get it?" At the time, I only knew Allen Edmonds as the best shoe I knew the name of. Looking back, I shudder to think about those lousy shoes I wore for years, even to my own wedding! After I had those Park Aves for a few months, I decided to go into the outlet store next time I went by it. I did that, and came away with two more pair of calfskin AEs, paying in the $150 - $200 range for each. I remember thinking that this was really expensive for shoes, but supposedly they are worth it, and hopefully will last a long time. I did not even understand that I was buying "seconds" I just knew that the box had a couple different prices on it, and I paid the lower of the two. I also knew that my business partner has a dozen pair of AE calfskin shoes that he has had for 15-30 years, across multiple resolings, and he swears by them. I had not yet heard of this forum or AAAC, and I had no idea what the AE sale calendar looked like. Shortly thereafter, I did a google search for Allen Edmonds, primarily to find out how I should care for them. I stumbled into AAAC and this forum, and began learning about shoe trees, horsehair brushes, and this special leather called shell cordovan. About 2 months later, I went into the outlet store again, and checked out a pair of shell cordovan AE MacNeils. At the time, I was still not sold on paying roughly $400 on a pair of shoes, even if they are shell cordovan. A few weeks later (about 3.5 years ago), I received a personalized email from the outlet store manager about a sale coming up, and that shell cordovan would be on sale. It roughly coincided with my birthday, and I ended up buying 3 pair, the Randolph, Bradley and Macneil, all in burgundy shell cordovan. After that, you might say I was hooked. I began selling all my calfskin shoes, and replacing with their shell counterparts. I then started branching out to Alden and C&J for RL. Today, I have 3 pair of Alden shell, 3 pair of C&J for RL shell, 3 pair of AE calfskin or Chromexcel and 14 pair of AE shell. (+1 pair of Rancourt shell boat shoes). AE is the vast majority because I like their styling, I know how the lasts fit me, and I find them to be a very good value, both in firsts (on sale) and on seconds (also on sale, if I can), and I like supporting american businesses. I find the quality to be almost on par with Alden and Rancourt, though below that of C&J (but, priced accordingly). Doing this, I am able to afford a very nice shoe wardrobe while still doing what I need to financially to allow my wife to be a stay-at-home mom and support our 2 young kids. Finally, to those who are discussing nice shoes (particularly shell cordovan versions) being an "addiction" I will say that it absolutely is, and I don't see an end in sight. My first 3 pair of shells held me over for about a year... in the past 9 months, I have purchased 7 more (and I am actively looking for my next pair...). In fact, today is the inaugural wearing of one of my most recent purchases, the black Cambridges.