IT WAS a pair of yellow and gray, patent leather sandals that first caught my eye. The odd color combination was surprisingly fresh, but it was the $18.99 price tag that made the buy a no-brainer. The Datillo sandal is on sale at Nine West for $59.99, but it's at Marshalls for less than $20.
The off-price retailer has souped up its shoe departments. Now they're called Shoe Megashops, and they're in 120 Marshalls across the country. Forty have opened during the last year in L.A. and Orange County, and indeed, everything about the revamped shoe section is mega -- mega large, mega inexpensive and requiring mega patience. There are rows upon rows of shoes and clearance shelves. You will be there for hours if you don't limit yourself.
Like many other discount shoe retailers, the Shoe Megashop has supermarket-style aisles with display shoes sitting atop boxes of various sizes. The women's section is about five aisles wide, men's is four and kids' fills just two kid-size rows. Thankfully, the shelves are well-kept and organized. When scouting for gems, be sure to stop every third row, or your eyes will go crossed.
The Shoe Megashop promises a 20% to 60% slash off designer prices. And "designer" means Michael by Michael Kors, Anne Klein, Rafé and Nine West. Not exactly Yves Saint Laurent, but with most pairs carrying a $29.99 price tag, we'll take it.
The styles aren't seasons-old castaways with funky purple straps or stiletto heels. They are attractive, classic styles. Some are more functional than fashionable, such as cushion-sole Clarks and easy on the feet Aerosoles.
A pair of black leather Bandolino sandals with a T-strap that fastened around the ankle were timeless, simple and $29.99. Red patent leather wedge Brooke sandals from Rafe, originally $295, were just $99. And, of course, those Nine West Datillo sandals, also available in black patent leather and a metallic bronze, were gleaming from the clearance rack for just $18.99.
Tameka Nelson, a fellow Mega shopper, grabbed the same Nine West sandal, claiming it might be her greatest find yet. And she ought to know. "I go from Marshalls to Marshalls looking for the best shoe selection," she says, "and I think this store (Beverly Connection) and Studio City are the best."
And the deals aren't just for the ladies. The men's section had plenty of basic dress shoes. Nothing exciting but certainly great for a recent college grad starting a new job. A pair of brown Hamilton lace-up oxfords by Calvin Klein were $59, down from $120. And for the college kid on a starving-student budget, skate brands included Zoo York, Volcom, Vans and DC. Most impressive were the Vans: A pair of black SK8-Hi were $19.98.
The shoe selection is large and easy to peruse, but like any discount store there's only a certain run of sizes -- no one's running to the back to find yours. So, go in the morning right after the doors open (10 a.m. at the Beverly Connection). That's when Nelson and I were there scooping up the same sandals. It's a good thing we wear a different size or there might have been a mega fight.