Shoes for working retail (a review)

I’ve griped before about trying to find shoes that fit me, that are comfortable, that have ankle support, and that can hold up to not only the pounding of retail, but specifically the pounding of working retail at Home Depot.

Home Depot is hell on shoes.  Those ugly commercial tiles that most stores have down do actually make a difference in how long my shoes last.  Shoes that last for months and months at most places barely last 3 months at HD.  That straight up concrete is hell on shoes, feet, and joints.

Doing some research and talking with long term HD employees a couple things stood out.  1: I needed at least two pairs of shoes to swap between, as in every  other day swap.  And 2: it might be worth checking out quality hiking shoes, several folks recommended them.

So off I went to a couple different local sporting goods stores.  The next problem was that I wanted high tops without actually getting BOOTS, and I have wide feet (for my foot length) due to having spent my life on my feet.

I ended up with a pair of Ahnu Montara boots, and a high topped set of Keen shoes (I forget which style).  The Keen’s came in wide (so I bought them in size 7), the Ahnu’s didn’t, but I only had to go up 1/2 size to get a decent fit (size 7.5).  I figured that the width on the Keens would be the key factor, but I was wrong.  The Keen’s weren’t bad shoes.  But the Ahnu’s not only broke in faster (with zero hot spots or blisters despite a longer footbed), but remained more comfortable for far longer than the Keens did.  And when the Keens finally died they died all at once and were hell to wear.  The Ahnu’s I could have gotten away with for a bit longer if I’d had to.  I got a solid year’s worth of comfortable wear out of the Ahnu’s, and a year of wear out of the Keens, though I’m hesitant to call it a solid year’s worth of comfortable.

The local Gander Mountain was closing back end of spring/beginning of summer, so I swung through there to see what they had left.  A set of Ahnu Montara’s in a different color caught my eye, but they only had them in size 8.  I tried them on and walked in circles for several minutes in them before deciding to buy them anyway.  A set of Red Wing Irish Setter boots caught my eye, and they had them in 7.5, and they fit and weren’t uncomfortable at first try, so I grabbed them too.

That was May, if I recall right.  Once again the Ahnu’s required essentially no break in period, the extra half size length of the foodbed has caused me no problems.  The Red Wings did, and have remained far less comfortable than the Ahnu’s all the way across the board.  The addition of cheap gel soles under my prescription insoles helped some, but not enough.

For various reasons I’ve basically not worn either pair for the last month except for a few hours here and there.  Black Friday I wore the Ahnu’s for an 8hr shift.  Saturday I wore the Red Wings for an 8hr shift.  Friday, my feet hurt a bit, but thats normal enough after that sort of day.  Saturday I came home with serious hotspots and not quite blisters, and seriously sore feet and ankles and knees.

Today I’m shopping for Ahnu Montara boots.  As I’d hoped several places (including the official website)  have them on very nice sale.  I intend to buy at least two pairs.  And hope and pray that the folks who own the brand never ever change them!  The Red Wings are being relegated to wear around the house work boots.

The Ahnu Montara’s are very lightweight in comparison to every other hiking shoe and boot I tried.  The soles held up very well to the abuse that is HD, though some hiking reviews say they don’t always for things like rock climbing.  I can’t speak for the original insoles as I replace them with my prescription ones.  The soles are soft, but not thin.  They do allow you to feel everything you step on, which is a bit weird till you get used to it.  On the other hand I have yet to slip on wet concrete in them, even in the year old ones!

I was not in any way paid for this review, all the shoes mentioned were bought with my own money.

8 thoughts on “Shoes for working retail (a review)”

  1. Wearing proper shoes is so essential. I didn’t learn that lesson until I was much older. When I was working my way through university, I worked as a waitress/bartender at a higher end pub. Our “uniform” was high heels, yeah…a bit of a chauvinist pub owner…but the money was good with tips, so I didn’t complain much. Getting used to running around in high heels though wreaked havok on my limbs over the years. I still have ankle issues because of that. I’m glad you found a good pair of shoes/boots that’ll keep you comfy!

    • I sold furniture for about a year. We were required to wear “dress shoes”. Didn’t have to be heels thank god, but even flats, womens dress shoes suck.

  2. Garmont backpacking boots (not hiking) have been my most comfortable footwear. I have resoled a pair of boots twice in 9 years, but the inner soles are still original and have held up very nicely.

    I ride in them (originally bought as riding boots in 2008), do landscaping/yard work in them, snow blow, even wear them doing projects in the basement. The exterior is now very raggedy and I’ve glued the leather uppers twice. It is hard to find a retailer though, so have not been able to replace them. 2 years ago I found some riding boots that are fairly good, and a lot cheaper. But they aren’t suitable for yard or house work.

    I will have to look into those Anhu’s!

    • I was surprised by how much I like them. They look kinda cutsy. And the soles are by the same folks who do the “barefoot” shoes.

      I will have to look up the Garmont’s, its worth having more ideas to keep in mind!

    • The Official Website had been a bit screwy since black friday weekend btw. Going to the website, and trying to click through the menu isn’t working (shows nothing available), but doing a google search for Ahnu Montara nets you a link directly to the product page for two colors. Go figure.

    • heh, when you get a moment look up “z-coil shoes”. If they had a store near me I’d totally go try some on, but yes, sticker shock……

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