Ok, been a member of the board for a few months. One of the MAIN reasons i love the forum is the shoe threads. Ive always wanted to upgrade my shoes to a good quality shoe in the $400 range that would last years. I credit the forum for introducing me to Allen Edmonds. If not for that, i would still be looking at Cole Hanns or Johnston and Murphy, etc. A few months ago after high anticipation, I purchased my first pair of Allen Edmonds, the walnut strand. Got it at a Allen Edmond store. The first pair the associate brought out were obviously ( or so i thought), display shoes, so i passed on those. Got another pair, took them home. A few weeks after that, i decided to lace them up. While lacing, noticed that the interior shell wasnt lining up with the eyelets. I had to ACTUALLY slide the strings in at a angle to get them past material that was in the eyelets. Im not kidding you, my thinking was that since these are VERY expensive shoes ( to me), that it must be the way they are made, silly me. A few days later, i wore them for the first time and BARELY touched a car door bottom while getting out and scuffed the toe of one of the shoes. Again, im thinking (must be me). Next, after taking them off, i noticed a big chip in the heel of one of the shoes, covered up with the stain used on the heels. After all this, i finally did a search a few days ago and discovered numerous accounts of people having the same issues with EASILY scratched strands, squeaky strands, QUICKLY needed resole jobs and various other issues. Not with just the strands, but other styles also. My question is obvious, has the quality gone down over the years?? I had a list of A.E. shoes i wanted to purchase, but have decided to maybe get one or two more pairs and call it a day because the first run shoes appear to be the same quality as the second run shoes. These shoes are too expensive to have to SEARCH for shoes that are flawless, as i see people are doing.