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bluejazzmonkey

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With respect, saying the opinion is BS while asking someone to take your opinion into consideration is kinda BS no? Maybe this was meant as a light hearted joke, in which case ignore the previous sentence. My experience, lets call it an opinion, has been that Alden, Carmina, C&J, J. Fitzpatrick, and Grant Stone all have better QC and finishing within the sample size of shoes I've owned. Does that mean the customer service is better? No. AE's is the best but C&J and Grant Stone are pretty good (go checkout the GS thread for some of what they tolerate). I think the shop owners for Alden are helpful, but the factory a little less warm and fuzzy. It doesn't mean AE can't turn out a great looking pair of shoes. And no, AE generally works better or as well as the Alden lasts I own.

You remind me of an extremely old woman.

p.m.s. I love AE shoes
 

Hisheirness23

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With respect, saying the opinion is BS while asking someone to take your opinion into consideration is kinda BS no? Maybe this was meant as a light hearted joke, in which case ignore the previous sentence. My experience, lets call it an opinion, has been that Alden, Carmina, C&J, J. Fitzpatrick, and Grant Stone all have better QC and finishing within the sample size of shoes I've owned. Does that mean the customer service is better? No. AE's is the best but C&J and Grant Stone are pretty good (go checkout the GS thread for some of what they tolerate). I think the shop owners for Alden are helpful, but the factory a little less warm and fuzzy. It doesn't mean AE can't turn out a great looking pair of shoes. And no, AE generally works better or as well as the Alden lasts I own.
Think you highlighted a great point in that most of the Alden dealers are the actual shop owners (with SF and DC being actual factory/Alden owned). The relationships built with them seem more genuine, plus the Alden model allows for special make-ups for most stores that are exclusive to that shop. AE sells the same shoes/boots in all of there stores, so there's no difference in shopping at AE in SF versus Walnut Creek (or even AE online).

Another thing I've appreciated is the complimentary gifts/swag I've received from purchasing shoes at Alden retailers. They may throw in a free set of shoe trees or some Alden boot polish. Heck, even a green Alden shoe horn! Whereas I've spent thousands at an AE store (on multiple occasions for Shell Trunk Shows) and wasn't even offered a complimentary set of shoe laces or anything. I even asked jokingly and the sales associates almost scoffed at me like, "nice try."

Going back to QC, each brand has their own issues. To me, it comes down to accepting cosmetic issues and rejecting defects that could compromise the integrity of the shoe. AE makes my favorite shoe in the Strand and second favorite boot in the Hamilton. Alden makes a fantastic Wingtip Boot and their Perf Tip Jumper Boots and Indy Boots are incredible patterns that I also find aesthetically superior to other boots.

In the end, I've learned to simply accept these shoes for the Made in USA and made by hand craftsmanship and pieces of art that they are. These will all outlive me, which is the ultimate testament for their quality, whereas I've owned plenty of Nikes that the midsole foam have crumbled and ended up in the trash bin.
 

madhat

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Think you highlighted a great point in that most of the Alden dealers are the actual shop owners (with SF and DC being actual factory/Alden owned). The relationships built with them seem more genuine, plus the Alden model allows for special make-ups for most stores that are exclusive to that shop. AE sells the same shoes/boots in all of there stores, so there's no difference in shopping at AE in SF versus Walnut Creek (or even AE online).

Another thing I've appreciated is the complimentary gifts/swag I've received from purchasing shoes at Alden retailers. They may throw in a free set of shoe trees or some Alden boot polish. Heck, even a green Alden shoe horn! Whereas I've spent thousands at an AE store (on multiple occasions for Shell Trunk Shows) and wasn't even offered a complimentary set of shoe laces or anything. I even asked jokingly and the sales associates almost scoffed at me like, "nice try."

Going back to QC, each brand has their own issues. To me, it comes down to accepting cosmetic issues and rejecting defects that could compromise the integrity of the shoe. AE makes my favorite shoe in the Strand and second favorite boot in the Hamilton. Alden makes a fantastic Wingtip Boot and their Perf Tip Jumper Boots and Indy Boots are incredible patterns that I also find aesthetically superior to other boots.

In the end, I've learned to simply accept these shoes for the Made in USA and made by hand craftsmanship and pieces of art that they are. These will all outlive me, which is the ultimate testament for their quality, whereas I've owned plenty of Nikes that the midsole foam have crumbled and ended up in the trash bin.
Back in the days of yore, the good SMs would send free gifts on occasion. I know I’ve gotten laces and tongue pads, maybe more. (They’re so cheap it’s silly not to include)
 

middlepP

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Think you highlighted a great point in that most of the Alden dealers are the actual shop owners (with SF and DC being actual factory/Alden owned). The relationships built with them seem more genuine, plus the Alden model allows for special make-ups for most stores that are exclusive to that shop. AE sells the same shoes/boots in all of there stores, so there's no difference in shopping at AE in SF versus Walnut Creek (or even AE online).

Another thing I've appreciated is the complimentary gifts/swag I've received from purchasing shoes at Alden retailers. They may throw in a free set of shoe trees or some Alden boot polish. Heck, even a green Alden shoe horn! Whereas I've spent thousands at an AE store (on multiple occasions for Shell Trunk Shows) and wasn't even offered a complimentary set of shoe laces or anything. I even asked jokingly and the sales associates almost scoffed at me like, "nice try."

Going back to QC, each brand has their own issues. To me, it comes down to accepting cosmetic issues and rejecting defects that could compromise the integrity of the shoe. AE makes my favorite shoe in the Strand and second favorite boot in the Hamilton. Alden makes a fantastic Wingtip Boot and their Perf Tip Jumper Boots and Indy Boots are incredible patterns that I also find aesthetically superior to other boots.

In the end, I've learned to simply accept these shoes for the Made in USA and made by hand craftsmanship and pieces of art that they are. These will all outlive me, which is the ultimate testament for their quality, whereas I've owned plenty of Nikes that the midsole foam have crumbled and ended up in the trash bin.

Back in the days of yore, the good SMs would send free gifts on occasion. I know I’ve gotten laces and tongue pads, maybe more. (They’re so cheap it’s silly not to include)

This is why I miss the AE outlets. I quickly developed great relationships with SAs who hustled to make sales, but also did it in a way that honored the customer. Inside scoop on upcoming sales, charge backs if you missed a sale, calls to tell you unique models or seconds with minor flaws were available in your size. Plus, they would throw in things like shoe horns, key chains, laces, or care products. Hell, my dude first told me about buying AE gift cards online to save even more.

Quickly turned many from buyers to collectors, regardless if it was TS shell or sub-$100 clearance items being purchased.

Edit: And always tongue pads, because Earl knew my feet.
 

Harwid

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I have a really great SA at my local AE store. He always gets me in the right sized shoe. It doesn’t hurt that we both wear 12B. Although certain AE shoes/boots I wear 11 1/2B, 11 1/2D and 12D - the importance of a good SA. I did not enjoy my experience at an Alden store. Since I measure a B width AE gives me many options. Too many shoes only come in D.

Jeff
 

Hisheirness23

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I have a really great SA at my local AE store. He always gets me in the right sized shoe. It doesn’t hurt that we both wear 12B. Although certain AE shoes/boots I wear 11 1/2B, 11 1/2D and 12D - the importance of a good SA. I did not enjoy my experience at an Alden store. Since I measure a B width AE gives me many options. Too many shoes only come in D.

Jeff
Unfortunately, only the Alden factory stores carry multiple widths. All other Alden dealers purchase the shoes from Alden and then are responsible for selling them. This is why you don't see entire size runs of multiple widths at Alden dealers. AE is able to offer multiple widths because the models they sell are models they make across their catalog and aren't special make-ups.
 

Bad Bart

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Thanks for the compliment, but no, I’m really just a hobbyist (that intends to try to become more than that). I took a class and they really do give great guidance while “letting you do most of the work.”

I’m embarrassed, but I don’t remember the exact leather type. There were about 5 or 6 choices. It’s probably lower to mid-grade.

View attachment 2036749

Some others from the same class.

I’m happy to answer questions here or via IM.
Wow! Incredible! Where is this class you took?
 

Peitron

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Another thing I've appreciated is the complimentary gifts/swag I've received from purchasing shoes at Alden retailers. They may throw in a free set of shoe trees or some Alden boot polish. Heck, even a green Alden shoe horn! Whereas I've spent thousands at an AE store (on multiple occasions for Shell Trunk Shows) and wasn't even offered a complimentary set of shoe laces or anything. I even asked jokingly and the sales associates almost scoffed at me like, "nice try."
True, it's s very different in-shop experience. But as the SA at my go-to Alden shop told me last time (as he threw in shoe trees, shoe horn, extra laces, and a complimentary brush into my bag), they will rarely -if ever- discount prices like AE. I just got a pair of TS Strands at $557.50 after discounts, reward dollars and birthday coupon. At that price I can still afford the extra swag.
 
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