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Where can a middle aged guy get plain sneakers these days?


Nowhere, that's where.

Above is a photo I took of a Payless ShoeSource. The last one I ever visited, in fact. This was right before they closed up shop so I snapped a few photos of it back in 2019.

When I say "closed up shop", that doesn't mean out-of-business. Payless ShoeSource still exists as an online retailer, although they just go by Payless now.

I am a Gen-X, born in the 1970s. And this commercial from the '90s shows the kind of sneakers we all used to wear:

Notice the styles. Mostly plain white and plain black. They all looked decent, didn't have any wild styles and were made for sport. As a daily wearer shoe, these were great.

One of the few plain sneakers left is the New Balance 608; this is what I wear currently.

The 608 is one of the very few sneakers you can get in plain white or plain black. In fact, New Balance even offers this model in 100% white or 100% black. It's also one of the few sneakers you can get in a proper plain style that is wide, and I have wide feet. Not clown-shoes big, but wide.

I used to go to Payless ShoeSource to get plain sneakers, but after their stores shuttered, finding something plain in my size required me to buy it online.

Oh yeah, I tried other stores. Cheap places, upscale and even a few high-end ones. All they had were just a scant few plain sneaker offerings, and when they did have them, they were never in my size.

Should I just go sandal?

I'm considering it.

A sandal type I like is the fisherman sandal with a closed toe. Most of these are brown and look traditional with very little goofy style stuff going on.

With sandals I actually have more choice than I do with sneakers, so that might be the way to go.

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