At one point, Chris was barely able to walk due to plantar fasciitis. Years of chronic pain led her to treat it at home successfully.
Tips for Finding Cheap Birkenstocks
Here's my confession: I own 12 pairs of Birkenstocks. I practically live in them. They last me forever, they're comfortable, and I think they look great, especially some of the styles you get directly from Germany. I also have plantar fasciitis, and my Birks help me walk and stand when I couldn't otherwise. Although Birks are not for everyone, for many, once they discover how comfortable Birkenstocks sandals and shoes really are, they're compelled to do what I did and spread the word to my family while buying multiple pairs.
The problem is that my Birkenstock habit can get expensive. Birkenstock shoes are not cheap. They're quality made and you definitely pay for it. But since they help prevent and manage my plantar fasciitis, the leather doesn't force my feet into an abnormal shape.
They have contoured footbeds and they last me for years, so I feel it's worth it. However, I'm a sale hound. Only a few times have I bought Birkenstocks not on sale. I search out Birkenstock clearance sales and end-of-season sales, and I shop at places like Birkenstock Express, Sam's Club, and eBay to get a discount.
Are You Obsessed With Birkenstocks?
Tips for Finding Sales and Discounts
- Some Birkenstock retailers will offer quantity discounts, or discounts on subsequent orders placed. MJ Feet in the University District of Seattle used to do this when I ordered online. It's well worth it to inquire about these quantity discounts at the smaller independent dealers.
- One obstacle I've encountered is that Birkenstock sandals aren't treated as seasonal footwear. They're considered year-round footwear and so don't automatically go on sale when the summer ends. So, from experience I can tell you not to hold your breath for seasonal sales - you'll be holding it a long time!
- Warehouse clubs are a great place to look. They tend to stock very limited styles and sizes, but they usually have incredible discounts, sometimes as much as 50 percent. Do be careful about lookalike styles. Just because they look like the Florida sandal doesn't mean they have the Florida sandal footbed - I was burned by this once and ended up with a narrower footbed, which still fit, but not quite as perfectly as the true Florida, which is in the Classic line.
- When you're looking online, know the size you want ahead of time, including the widths. Often the clearance shoes are only searchable by size and width.
- Take into account the cost of shipping the Birks. I usually get several pairs at once from the same vendor when possible.
- Try some of the new or uncommon styles by buying directly from Germany, the home of Birkenstock, via eBay sellers overseas. Many styles sold direct from Germany are not available at retail stores in the U.S., but only through overseas mail order. Ordering from another country isn't as scary as it sounds - I've done it several times and never had a bad experience, and I've gotten some styles I thought were discontinued, like Birkenstock Phoenix and Santa Fe, two beautiful fisherman-style sandals (the Phoenix has a closed back.)
- If buying off of eBay, check the seller's feedback first just to be safe, and make sure the listing says "new" or "new in box." Remember that Birkenstocks are made with cork footbeds, which mold to the user's foot over time, so buying used shoes is not advised here.
- Make sure you read the details of any Birks listed on sale no matter where you buy. Not all these sandals and shoes are made with leather (which can be smooth leather, nubuck, suede or another texture) Some are made with man-made materials. The footbeds also differ significantly between product lines (i.e., Classic vs. Tatami vs. Papilio, etc.)
Birkenstock Sizing and Widths
The Birkenstocks company uses unisex UK sizing or European sizing rather than American shoe sizes. In the Birkenstock's Classic line—the line that has the famous Birkenstock Arizona sandals, Boston clogs and Florida sandals—a size 39 European is about a size 9 women's. Shoes in the Birkenstock Footprints line use alternate sizing, in which a size 40 is equivalent to the size 39 in the Classics or Papilio line.
Birkenstocks come in a range of widths. R is Regular, meaning wide width. N means narrow width. Medium means midway between narrow and wide. Some lines like Footprints also have some styles that only come in a one-width option, medium width.
How to Take Care of Birkenstocks
I admit I don't assiduously take care of the leather of my Birks. They get to look scruffy after a while, though the leather is full grain and holds up well structurally for years. However, I DO regularly get heel taps put on to repair old Birks that are worn in the heel and sole.
Check the bottoms of your worn shoes. If you pronate (turn your foot in) or supinate (turn your foot out) then you might see wear on just one side of the heel. Heel taps have extended the life of some of my Birkenstock sandals and shoes for years, particularly my favorite pair, an old Birkenstock Paris style that I don't think they sell anymore in the U.S. In some cases, you should get the shoes to a Birkenstock dealer for repair. In others, you can go to any shoe repair store and have heel taps put in.
Questions & Answers
Question: I normally wear a women's size 8D (wide) width. Would I wear an R or an M in Birks?
Answer: I think you'd be an R.
Question: I wear a 39 regular Birk and a 7.5- 8 U.S. shoe sizes. I don't think the 39's are at all a size 9. But I do have a question: Some years ago I could buy a variety of styles directly from German stores. I've lost those websites. Do you know of any? Their variety of styles was fantastic!!!!
Answer: Me, too - but as far as I know, they're gone. Their styles available to US buyers have become a lot more limited, unfortunately.
Question: Do you think I should buy used Birkenstocks?
Answer: Personally, I wouldn't, not unless there was no other way to get Birks or if I knew their provenance. Used Birks were most likely worn without socks, and because the classic footbeds are porous, there's something of an "ew" factor. Birks are also pretty often well worn even if the leather looks good. It's really a case-by-case thing.
Question: What do you do to keep your Birks smelling good?
Answer: I've never had a problem with my Birks smelling bad. Athletic shoes of any brand can take on a sweaty smell, but I'm able to wear Florida, Milano, London, and other classic styles without socks and they don't get funky, even when I go for long walks. I think the key might be making sure they're aired out and ventilated. The styles I wear have a lot of openwork, unlike sneakers, and the footbeds are porous and don't tend to accumulate sweat.
Question: I have a relative that needs to buy a pair of Birkenstock sandals via mail order. She does not own a computer OR have a credit card. She needs to order from a paper catalog with an actual order form, and needs to pay by check. Do you know of any such catalogs? I am trying to help her find one by looking online, but no success so far.
Answer: I do not. People used to be able to buy that way (I think) from MJ Feet in Seattle, but no more I believe. I would recommend she call the Birkenstock company directly.
Question: Where is a good place to buy Yara Birkenstocks on sale?
Answer: I'm sorry, I can't help you there.