That Particular Agony of Back To School Shoe Shopping

Clarks Shoe Shop

Yesterday, in a move of surprising organisation I’m not normally used to in holiday time, I was able to muster the children together and get them out the door and down to the local shoe shop by 9.10am. Unfortunately, a great many other mothers were even more organised and by the time I arrived I had to take a ticket like I was in a deli and I braced myself for a wait until they called number 17. They were waving their number 9s and 7s under my nose, I swear it. HEARTLESS flaunting there.

But they weren’t all like that. I scouted the shelves with one other mother and we were both picking up the shoes to inspect the price tag, immediately putting down again those out of our desired price range.

Not cheap, is it? I asked.

She turned around and waved at her children. I’ve got four to fit, she said. I’m wondering how I’m going to do it.

Finally – finally! – it was our turn. Riley slipped his foot in the silver measuring contraption.

The assistant said, wow, he’s got a fat foot.

Yes, I said.

She wasn’t finished. Really fat, she continued. And square. Like a brick!

I’ve known this for some time. We’ve needed to buy extra-wide shoes his whole life, thus putting out question shopping options such as Target or Payless Shoes. I’m resolved to this and try to be serene about it most of the time. Like a picture of Mary, staring upwards out of loving patience. Yep, that’s me all right.

Well, okay, maybe not. Especially after we’d tried on no less than six pairs of shoes and none of them were right, not even the normally dependable Clarks. By this time I was looking at my watch. We needed to get going. So I quit. Pulled the plug and started gathering up my things – until Keira piped up that she absolutely needed new shoes too. By now my mobile phone was getting a text-a-minute from Adam wondering where we were and could we please hurry up?

And because I was seeing red I texted back words to the effect of Don’t fuck with me, man. I’m on the edge here.

I let Keira tried on several pairs. None of them were right. Naturally. Sometimes the shoe gods are with you, sometimes not. Today, not.

So we left, and I felt a little sorry for the assistant, who by that point was wiping the sweat from her brow. An hour gone with nothing to show for it.

And I’m not sure what I’m going to send them to school in. I’ll have to try a different store, perhaps.

In sum: drat.

Where do you shop for school shoes? Have any tips for me? Can I buy them online (reliably) anywhere?

Image: Mat Gartside.
Pin It

Karen Andrews is the creator of Karen Andrews. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).


  1. says

    Oh God you’ve got me coming out in a cold sweat – I’ve still got to do mine – and we have the opposite problem long and thin you can’t get a bloody pair that will hold onto her foot – inner sole after inner sole needs to be added in. Frankly in Port Macquarie there are only so many options so she will have to make do (she can just add deformed feet to the litany of issues she will have against me by the time she is an adult). Buying on-line? You reckon? Sounds like a risk to me but let me know if it works out.

  2. says

    Oh, Karen. I feel your pain. We only had one child to find school shoes for (luckily, we went with black sneaker-that-looks-like-shoe option, which is forgiving re size), but the other decided he wanted new shoes, too. With tantrum in stereo. That was a lot of fun.

    I think you’re on the other side of town? We went to a new, almost DIY shoe place in Oakleigh; that is, few helpers (but those we approached were good), but stacks of shoes out for you to browse and ferret around for sizes. We like serving ourselves.

    Hope the shoe gods are definitely with you on the next trip!

  3. says

    We go to Gilmores in Heidelberg Mall on Bell St for all our shoe needs.

    Husband is a size 16 and has shopped at Gilmores for shoes for years.

    They do fittings for people with unusual size:shape feet.
    Marita recently posted..I have learnedMy Profile

  4. says

    Oh bum. This I still gotta do :-( 6 yo is easy to fit, I could buy hers at Payless and be cool, but 8yo has extremely long, narrow feet and arggggghhhhh you just gave me a vision of my future AND IT IS A BLEAK PICTURE.
    Kathy recently posted..Winners and AnswersMy Profile

  5. says

    Our new school (high school) recommended Athletes Foot at $140ish a pop. For a nearly 14 year old who is growing like a friggin’ beanstalk on steroids.

    So we went to Payless. $29 and $39 a pop. For leather Grosby’s.

    Also – we are the broad foot family. They surprised me with their new ranges and WIDE fittings. Worth another shot maybe?
    Madmother recently posted..Uberkate – How You Warm My Heart.My Profile

  6. Shelly says

    Ah, dear. The short yet wide foot. I have it myself.
    Not sure what to suggest, sorry. Been many a year since I was in school shoes (ROC, if i recall, and i wouldn’t be lying if I said part of the reason i chose those was it spelled part of my name. Narcissism at its finest…)

  7. Mary Jane says

    My husband and I buy our kids shoes online, sizes are pretty standard which is good but the amount you can save online is fantastic, even when we order from the US they arrive within 3-4 days!

    We also use cash back sites so we save even more, check out the following retailers:

  8. says

    I so feel your pain. Unlike you though we have a son with very small feet. He is a freshman in highschool and still wears a childrens shoe size. I cringe at the sound of his voice saying “mom I need new shoes” because I know we are in for an epic battle. Do you know how hard it is to find shoes that don’t light up or don’t have a picture of pokemon or superman on the side. Just try sending your kid to highschool in those. So we travel to store after store after store, each one of us getting at little more irritated. By the end of the day he is begging me to give up and assuring me the hole in the bottom of his shoe isn’t that big. So back home we go, head down feeling our failure once again in the battle of shoe shopping. Shoe store 521: us 0.

    Try! At least your computer isn’t condesending and you can have a nice glass of wine while you shop.
    Sincerely Kelly Smith; (Living in the real world @

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge