Calculated Decisions: Is the Everlane Shoe Sale Worth Your Time?

 Photo via Everlane

Photo via Everlane

Everlane is stepping up to help you kick off your weekend with the only two things that should matter on a Saturday: shoes and coffee.

The transparent pricing online retailer is hosting an IRL sale of "worn once" shoes at The Archery (470 Alabama Street) on Saturday, January 7, from 11 am–6 pm. The brand says that seven different styles will be 30 percent off retail, and there will be plenty of free coffee. You can RSVP here.

It's supposed to rain on Saturday, and you have to decide if you want to stand in the rain for a shoe sale, so let's talk specifics.

First, that "worn once" label. Everlane says that 70 percent of its shoe returns are for wrong sizes. If a buyer tried the shoes on a hard wood floor, faint signs of wear could render the pair unsaleable. In other words, these aren't press samples or unsatisfied customers' cast-offs. They're just wrong sizes that are no longer completely pristine. 

Second, the discount. Thirty percent is a paltry discount compared to the 70–80 percent markdowns that many retailers take in January. However, thanks to that whole transparent pricing business model, we know that 30 percent is Everlane's entire markup. (Scroll through the company's "pay what you want" sale selection, and you'll see that the cheapest option—which results in zero revenue for the brand—is 30 percent off.)

Third, the terms. According to Everlane's sale announcement, all sales are final. You'll be getting slightly imperfect shoes at a discount that you could arguably receive online, and no shot at buyer's remorse. On the other hand, Choose Your Price purchases fall under Everlane's generous 90-day return policy. 

The takeaway: This could be a well-spent (and caffeinated) Saturday, if you like the options and they are no longer available to order. However, before you find yourself swept up in the buy-everything chaos, pull out your phone and see if the shoe that you like is available on Everlane's Choose What You Pay page. If it is available (in your size), and you don't need the shoes same day, consider buying online to secure that return guarantee.