Discounting & School Shoes

I get it.

I’m a mum to 3 girls (and the littlest starts school this year too…..eeekkk!!!)

It’s expensive…..especially straight after Christmas!
And the school fees, tuition fees, sports rego, house & contents insurance hasn’t even come in yet!

And yes, I too am seeing the discounts being advertised by our competitors.
In many cases, they are the manufacturers and importers of school shoes that we sell at their suggested RRP.

But I like to look beyond the fancy (ahm…expensive) adverts and really see where my value for money is.
Where ever there’s a discount being offered on any new and continuing product, there’s got to be a cut back somewhere to afford it…and in the shoe business, the only places that we can cut back is staff and stock.

All year we employ senior fitting staff – never juniors even at our busiest times. We have trained them above and beyond the half-day Clarks Fitting Course and continue to train them even now.

We’ve been so fortunate to have Elise and Julie with us for over 10 years each – and that is knowledge and experience you can’t buy!
There’s NO WAY we’d cut back on our staff just to offer you a discount!!!

We are so passionate about your kids’ foot health and development – knowing that if the feet develop incorrectly, it can’t be reversed. Correctly fitted shoes require stock availability to get just the perfect amount of length and width…and we are so acutely aware that a bad fit now, means bad feet later.
Mum (aka Marion) and I make sure we stock the largest range of widths and sizes anywhere in Sydney. We ensure that we top up our stock throughout the year so that anytime your kids need school shoes, we are here to help you. We stock from Prep & Kindy sizes all the way through to big Year 12 boys sizes!!!
So there’s NO WAY we’d cut back on our stock just to offer you a discount!!

We try to go way beyond deals of money…and offer you deals of best value!
I will always talk you OUT of purchasing a pair of shoes before I talk you INTO purchasing them.

It’s so hard to describe what we are about.
The best way I can put it into words is… we care…about your kids’ feet…and we care about you.

This is as raw and honest as I can get with you…but I truly appreciate every one of you who shop with us, each and every single time.

Jaythene x

Summer Shoe Purchasing

For best value for money, the ultimate time to purchase kids summer footwear is around the 3rd Term school holidays, so by purchasing around October you’ll get longevity and value for money. If you wait until the weather starts to get warm, you often don’t get time…sports season gets underway, birthday parties start happening, end of school functions happen and Christmas suddenly turns up and you don’t have time to go looking for shoes. By this stage, we’ve sold the pick of the styles and you might miss out.


With school aged kids, we fit summer footwear for 1 season. If they’re fitted bigger than that, it will last the winter too, and unless you are going to a hot climate in the off season, there is no use giving your child enough room for them to trip over. Shoes that are fitted too big, will stretch out of shape and not offer enough support for your child’s growing feet. You also run the risk of blisters, callouses, and rubbing as the shoe bends in all the wrong places. Fashion footwear is designed by manufactures to only last one season, as opposed to school shoes, which are designed to last 9-12 months. The materials used in fashion footwear can vary from shoe to shoe, but as a general guide are leather, non-leather or a mix of both. Leather is obviously going to be the most durable and this is something we always recommend for a “rough” child or one that wears their fashion shoes more often than weekends only. Typically, a non-leather shoe will manage for the whole season, but we can’t promise anything!


As a guide for a school aged child, 1 pair of good quality summer shoes preferably leather so they last the distance. Get the shoes around the October long weekend and you’ll wear them for just shy of 6 months. My preschooler has often ended up with 2 pairs of sandals, one pair for daycare and playing in the backyard/park and another pair for neat and tidy wear. I’m not suggesting that your preschooler have 2 pairs (I own Sparks Shoes not you) but I AM going to tell you that the pair of shoes they are in MOST of the time should be a really good quality, fitted pair so that they will offer the best support and be the most durable. The pair of sandals they wear for fashion or “Sunday best” don’t have to be as high quality, but they should still be fitted for optimum foot growth, health and development.


The big (school age) kids each have a pair of school shoes, sports shoes, slippers/Ugg boots, rainboots and another pair of shoes. This final pair will be weather dependent, so sandals for summer and boots or similar for winter.

My preschooler has slippers/Ugg boots, rainboots and maximum of 2 pairs of seasonal shoes. Up until we began toilet training, we only had 1 pair of seasonal shoes, and sometimes I find 2 pairs a bit excessive!

Honestly, I’ve learnt the hard way! There was a time when my girls had too many pairs of shoes and I quickly realized that at the end of the season, the favorite seasonal pair had been the only pair worn, so where was the point in spending money on more than 1 seasonal pair?!

And let’s face it, I own Sparks Shoes, and my girls could have all the pairs of shoes in the world, but I practice what I talk about in store. If I find it a waste of money, then chances are you will too.

I hope that by looking into my kids shoe cupboard, this information has helped you!

2nd Hand Shoes

Many times, we hear parents saying they only need to purchase a pair of shoes for their eldest as the younger child gets the hand-me-downs. But have you stopped to work out if this is any good for your child’s foot growth and development?? Did you know that if your older child has a foot development or walking problem, by handing down shoes you can give the next child the same biomechanical problem?

For very short periods (up to a week or two) and one-off events, a second-hand shoe would be fine and there will be no long-term detrimental damage done to your child’s feet. It’s another story if you continue with pre-loved footwear for the long term.

No two children have the same feet (even if they share the same parents!) Your first born might have wide feet whilst your second born might have narrow feet. Therefore, the choice of size, width or style for one child may not be the same for the second. Even identical twins have different feet lengths, widths and other anomalies that as a parent you may not be aware of.

What you also can’t see is the effects of the first child softening and breaking down the support that is built INSIDE the shoes and the elasticity of the leather being stretched too far. It’s always very easy to flip the shoe over and check the sole to see how much wear a shoe has been through, but only a trained shoe fitter, like us, or podiatrist can assess if the walk pattern on the sole is correct or not.

If you have got a second-hand pair of shoes that you would like your child to wear, bring the child and the shoes and let us give you a free fit check. We’ll asses if the shoes have any “life” left in them and if they are the correct fit for your child. We only sell you a new pair of shoes if you need them.

Ugg Boots

There’s a winter chill in the air and we’re all starting to reach for something a little warmer to put on our feet now. Aussie icon, Ugg Boots, are the perfect item, and whilst we don’t stock them, I’m going to give you advice for what to look for in an Ugg boot and how to fit them.


Ugg boots are thought to be derived from fug boots that were worn by aviators in rural Australia during WWI. The term is believed to be a shortened form of “Flying Ugg Boots” However they didn’t become a household name until the 1960’s when surfers began to wear them as their feet were cold, numb and wet after surfing.


Original/Authentic Ugg Boots are made with Shearling – that’s the skin attached to the fleece. With the advancement in technology, other leather upper options have become available…in fact check out are they even leather?! There are now other uppers to create multiple options from waterproof to cost saving. The options are almost endless. Fleece can be bonded, or glued, onto any type of leather to minimize the cost and leather can be impregnated with chemicals to make them waterproof.

Traditional EVA (or Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) a lightweight rubber is used for sole units on Ugg boots, however tougher soles for durability are now also available.


1.When selecting an Ugg boot, look for a boot with an extra layer of material around the heel of the boot. This is usually highly visible as it’s stitched or glued to the outside of the boot. This heel counter will hold the boot upright, so they do not flop over and squash when wearing.

2.Look for a boot that has a strong piece of fabric, or binding, around the top of the boot. This will stop the boot from stretching when you pull them on and help to stop any seams from being pulled undone.

3.Look for an extra layer of material around the toe of the boot – much like a toe cap or mudguard. Ugg Boots that are made using Shearling are very soft and may tear or develop holes over time. Having a toe cap across the front of the boot will help your boots last longer.


Ugg Boots should be fitted firm – almost tight. You need to be mindful that the wool packs down and the shearling will stretch, more than a leather shoe will do. Even when fitting kids Ugg Boots, try not to be tempted to go up a size, thinking that they will last longer. By the time the wool beds down flat and the shearling stretches parents can often get 2 years out of a pair of boots. By making them too big to begin with, your foot will slop up and down in the back of the boot and the shearling with stretch much too quickly and out of shape. This will also cause air to rush in and out of the boot and make your feet cold!


Yes! You can repair Ugg Boots! I remember when my father’s Ugg Boots got a hole at the toe, he took them to the boot repairer and got a piece of leather stuck to the outside of the shearling. Stitching can often be sorted at the boot repairer’s too. Remember to spray your Ugg’s with Scotchguard or Waterproof Spray regularly as they are a leather and will absorb any spills. And unless you have a waterproof option, avoid wearing your Ugg’s in the wet weather, they will get very soggy! If they do happen to get wet, stuff them with newspaper and leave them to dry in an airy place. I usually find the laundry is a great place to dry them. DON’T put them in or near any heat source (like the oven, microwave, heater). 

Purchasing Kids Shoes for Later

We hear parents (and grandparents) regularly say instore they will buy a pair of shoes “for later” for when the child will grow into the shoes. Whilst this sounds like a great idea, purchasing footwear for next year is not always successful, especially for small children, as they have such massive growth spurts.

Many times, parents are lured in by a bargain to save “for later”. Bargains will always be available, and my motto is a bargain is only a bargain if it fits (and your kid likes it and wants to wear it) otherwise it becomes a waste of your money. Even I have grabbed my favourite kids shoe to have “for later” only to remember long after the season or size that I had it stored and was too late to use.

Another lesson well learnt, from my personal experience is to purchase shoes that your child wants. Some years ago, I insisted that my then five-year-old was going to “adore” the knee high European imported boots I insisted she had. Let’s just say they rarely saw the light of day! After having shoes correctly fitted, and if you are happy with a couple of options, allow your child to have the final say (if they are old enough to participate in the selection process with you). This way, your child will be happy and there shouldn’t be any disagreements about what to wear on your feet when you get home.

First Shoes

As a parent of a first walker it can be confusing to know when to put shoes on your child. Which is why I have written this article.

Our feet are very complex pieces of engineering. They walk, climb, dance, run, skip, jump, or stand for many hours a day. In an average life-time they walk the equivalent of a journey to the moon!


There are 28 bones, 112 ligaments and 20 muscles (plus nerves, blood vessels and skin) in EACH foot and takes up to 18 years to fully develop. At six months the foot comprises mostly of cartilage and can be deformed by an ill-fitting sock or all-in-one suit!

At two years of age, bone structure is developing, but there are still large gaps between the bones. By eight years the second part of the phalangeal (toes) and metatarsal (mid foot) bones can be clearly seen. These will take up to a further ten years to fuse together. Ill-fitting shoes can easily affect this progress. As an adult, bones are now fully formed with only small gaps between them. Although damage can still occur, the foot is more resilient.

Feet carry our whole body weight plus any extras such as our clothes, shopping, babies, baskets full of wet laundry and dozens of other things. For such a small part of us to support this weight AND more around wherever we wish to go, requires great strength. In fact, during the act of walking, the heel strikes the ground with a force equal to twice the body weight and remember the average pair of feet takes 10,000 steps a day, and flexes on average 7,000 times daily.

Shoes are one of the most important investments to the health, growth and development of your child.


The average age is between 12 and 15 months. Less than 60% of children are walking at a year old and only 3% are walking alone at 9 months. Never ‘push’ your child to walk early. Let them learn to walk in their own time. Crawling for a long as possible is best for your child. Crawling develops near vision which is important for later skills such as reading and writing. It also increases breathing capacity which is fundamental in the early phases of speech.


The first thing to look for isn’t the shoes themselves. You must look for a fully trained and qualified fitter that you can trust (that’s us!) We can answer all your questions honestly and hopefully, we can build a relationship with you for years to come as you’ll be buying LOTS of shoes for your little one over their childhood.


When you go in to purchase shoes, don’t have a preconceived idea about exactly what you want. Have a vague idea but be totally open to different options that are suitable for your child. All our staff are fully qualified and experienced and we know our stock intimately and will be able to show you what will fit your child best.

There are several different styles of shoes available for your child. Crib Shoes are soft leather or fabric shoes designed for “dressing up” your baby. These are the cutesy feel-good looking shoes. As long as they are a bit big whilst your newborn is not even weight bearing, you’ll be fine to fit those yourself.

Prewalkers are soft leather (or sometimes fabric) uppers with rubber soles usually with the sole wrapping around the toes for protection when crawling. These types of shoes are designed for children beginning to weight bare, walking around furniture and crawling. These shoes are best to be fitted by a professional fitter as the rubber toe can create a false “reading” when fitting and your child can end up with shoes that are fitted incorrectly.

First shoes are made with firm leather uppers and firm rubber soles. Quality ones will also be available in half sizes and different width fittings. These types of shoes are designed for children mostly walking (often waddling penguin like) with minimal crawling. These types of shoes should always be fitted and checked at regular intervals. Supportive, firm, well-fitting high quality shoes should always be worn once a child is walking unaided and always must be fitted professionally, as an incorrectly fitted shoe can do detrimental damage to a young foot.


You can put a pair of shoes on your child whenever you are ready. There is no hard and fast rule about the number of steps or the length of time that you should wait until you purchase a pair of shoes for your child. Go with your gut instinct – it’s when you are ready and want your child to wear shoes. The reason for you purchasing a first pair of shoes for your child is for protection from temperature (cold and hot ground) and texture (grass, tiles, concrete, carpet, floorboards).

Small children are very tactile, and can be discouraged from walking due to the changes in texture under bare feet. By having fitted shoes on their feet, it takes away the differences in the textures and gives the first walker confidence to take their first steps.

As soon as your child walks unaided regularly and confidently and crawls less and less then they can be fitted for a pair of first shoes.

Winter first walkers usually end up with shoes much earlier because socks don’t stay on and slippers fall off (or are not made small enough) and they have cold feet on the tiles and floorboards that are found in our houses today. Whereas summer first walkers often get their shoes much later due to the warmer temperatures. Summer temperatures can make the ground extremely hot, and little toddlers don’t understand the “hopping” needed to stop feet from burning on the ground. Always be extra vigilant in extreme weather conditions as I have seen the burns that can occur on the soles of the feet.


As part of your dressing routine at home put shoes on your child. They need to wear their shoes when they are walking – and that is when they are at home or at the park – not when they are in the pram! Often when they are in the pram they are playing with their feet and that’s where they lose their shoes! Having said that it is also good for their feet to spend some time barefoot if possible too.


In the first year, your toddler will grow 1 size every 3-4 months so we always recommend having one well fitted pair of shoes – trash it to death, clean it up for good occasions and then throw it out and start again. It becomes very costly to dispose of shoes worn only a handful of times that a little one has simply grown out of.

It’s very easy to pick up a pair of shoes to match an outfit as you are browsing through Country Road, Seed, Target etc. When making a footwear purchase in fashion shoes, consider if the shoes REALLY fit or do they just tug at the heartstrings? Clothing stores are not footwear focused and rely on your emotions to make a purchase.

Remember, it’s not just their first pair that is important to have fitted correctly – EVERY PAIR of shoes is important for developing feet. You are investing in the health and future of your children with correctly fitted footwear for at least the next 15 years. You only get one chance to make sure that your child’s feet develop correctly and a bad fit now means bad feet later. It is possible to squeeze a child into a pair of shoes 2 sizes too small without realising it and research now shows that one out of every 3 children has a foot deformity due to unsuitable and incorrect footwear.

You’re welcome to come in and have a chat with any of our friendly staff. Check out your options and decide when is the best time for your child to get their first pair of shoes.


Socks are an integral part of foot health that you probably aren’t aware of. Wearing socks that are too small can cause toes to curl up and increase the chances of hammer toes, ingrown toe nails, corns and other foot deformities.

Always ensure that when purchasing socks, you select the correct size. Be guided by the label on the pack and follow the SHOE SIZE rather than age. Children’s foot sizes differ at different ages so go with the appropriate size for their foot rather than age. Also check the label for the content of the sock. Try to look for socks with high cotton content and very little nylon, elastin or other man-made fabrics as possible. Cotton is a natural product and will breathe the best leaving your feet cooler inside footwear.

Wool socks work well in the winter time if you get cold feet, however, avoid wool socks if the wearer is suffering from Athlete’s Foot, a fungal infection which will LOVE to breed in wool socks.

Whilst ped socks or invisible socks are deemed “fashionable” these days, try to select a pair that go over the ankle a little. Quarter crew are better for wearing with shoes as they give a buffer between skin and shoe lessening the possibility of blistering.

For very small children “grip socks” are great for wearing without shoes. When putting shoes on, flip these styles of socks inside out so that the grip doesn’t get stuck to the footbed of the shoe and cause the toes to curl over when putting them on.

Finally, when putting on socks, pull the socks up firmly over the middle of the foot, heel and ankle, then go back and loosen around the toes. This will allow wiggle room for toes and ensure that they are not curled up.

Who knew there was so much to know about socks, hey?!

Wet Shoes

First up…DO NOT attempt to dry the shoes using any heat source (hairdryer, sunshine, oven, heater, microwave – yep…I’ve seen it all!) as this will cause the leather to dry out and could shrink the shoes (told you I’ve seen it all!)

Wipe down the shoes as much as possible removing any mud from the uppers.

Remove the innersole and stuff the inside of the shoes with newspaper/papertowel. Don’t overstuff the shoes as this could potentially stretch the leather permanently. Paper will help to draw the moisture from the leather. Keep an eye on them and change the stuffing over a couple of times to get them dry.

I would suggest you leave them in the laundry to dry. Somewhere out of the way, but not somewhere that gets hot – they need to dry naturally.

Once dry, give them a polish with old fashioned boot polish with a brush (Kiwi brand or similar). Allow the polish to soak into the leather for a couple of hours before buffing off. Repeat the polish a couple of times so the leather gets soft and moisturised again.

If you have textile or canvas shoes, follow the same rules as above – however they won’t need polishing 🙂

School Shoes

Purchasing school shoes is one of the most important purchases for your kids foot growth and health as they will be the shoes your child wears nearly everyday of the week. Here I’ve tried to answer the most commonly asked questions to help you out!


The best time is straight after Christmas or the first week of the New Year. This way you beat the crowds, your kids get the pick of their favourite styles, there’s plenty of sizes and kids have oodles of time to do their homework (wear their new shoes in!) before beginning school. If you’re going away over the break, make sure you get your shoes before you go away. Then you’re the ‘organised mum’ and don’t have to battle any crowds and avoid disappointment that the favourite style is not available in your child’s size. Cue tears from your kids.

On average, a child (once they reach school age) grows approximately 1 size a year, so although it seems like your child may have a growth spurt over summer, in fact it’s only one 12th of their annual growth done during this time. As your kids reach pre-pubescence, there can be a more rapid growth until they stop, so you might not quite make the year out of this pair unfortunately!

We can fit for about 9 months of growth over the school year, with most children getting the full year out of their shoes before needing new ones. The size will be the same whether you purchase on 1 January or 31 January and we know how to fit and cater for the fact that the shoes won’t be worn until the beginning of February.

If you think your child might be an extreme fitting (for example, very narrow/wide, very small/large) or have an unusual request such as brown shoes or orthotics, then go shopping early for best fitting results and to avoid disappointment.


The first thing to look for is a friendly, expert fitter who is fully trained and qualified with plenty of footwear knowledge and experience (that’s us!). Someone who is able to answer all your questions and give you advice. As a fully qualified fitter, they will intimately know their stock and will be able to correctly fit your child in shoes that offer good support with growth room but not trip over room!

Look for shoes that are lightweight (you don’t want your child to carry a brick on each foot) with quality leather uppers, leather linings, full and half sizes and different width fittings.

Be sure to have your child’s feet measured and properly fitted for school shoes and sport shoes as your children will spend many hours in them and they need to be comfortable, otherwise they will get grumpy! Also, the better the fit the longer the shoes last. An incorrectly fitted shoe has stresses and bends in the wrong places so it breaks down or becomes misshapen and wears out faster.

Basically the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been more true when it comes to school shoes. The more money you spend, the better the quality the materials that are used to manufacture the shoes. The better the quality materials, the better the durability. The better the durability, the happier the mother!

Sometimes we fall into the trap of purchasing a cheaper pair, only to find that they need replacing at least once throughout the course of the year. Add up what that would have cost and chances are if you spent just a little bit extra to begin with, they would last longer and it would be money well spent.

Correct fitting is more important to the overall heath and development of your children’s growing feet than getting a cheap price.


The first thing you need to do before offering your child ANY of these choices is check with your school regarding their uniform regulations!

Many times, we have parents say they want traditional school shoes for their daughters but black sports shoes for their sons, because they run around so much. As a mother of 3 beautiful girly girls, I struggle with this notion as I NEVER see my girls running around any less than the boys! So, what’s a mother to do?

Let me break this down for you…

Traditional school shoes have been designed to be worn five days a week to school.

Sports shoes have been designed to be worn 2 days a week to sport.

Lace ups offer the best support, only if they’re done up correctly.

Velcro is quick and easy in the rush of the morning and has more chance of being done up correctly by your small child.

Buckles for little kids are not as easy to do up so try to leave them to the bigger kids.

Mens’ dress shoes are becoming popular for senior boys – try to spend a bit extra on a good quality pair as dress shoes are made for the office, not school.

If you have a high-schooler consider the science labs, food tech, metal and wood tech rooms – they want covered, sturdy leather shoes for health and safety.

If you decide to purchase sports shoes to be worn instead of school shoes, then be prepared to purchase two pairs over the course of the year.


Now that you’ve spent the money on the best pair of shoes you can afford, your kids have a few responsibilities to look after their shoes.

Firstly, kids have homework before they even start school! New shoes should be worn in for a minimum of one hour 7 times (that’s a total of 7 hours) before wearing them for the first time to school. They don’t have to be walking – just having them on while eating dinner, watching TV or reading will suffice. Their body heat will soften the leather and help to prevent blisters on day one.

If you have already purchased school shoes earlier in the previous year and they still fit for the beginning of the new school year, we still recommend wearing them in again. Over the six weeks of Christmas holidays the leather firms up again as it’s not been worn on a daily basis and little feet have become accustomed to wearing sandals thongs or even no shoes at all! Putting your old school shoes on the day you return to school can feel very restricting so to avoid a meltdown on the morning of the first day, it’s a good idea to ease into it.


Teaching your child to put their shoes on and take them off correctly is worth the time invested. It will ensure they have the shoes on properly and also prolongs the life of the shoes.

When putting shoes on use your finger or thumb in the back of the shoe and do not take your finger out until your foot is inside the shoe. This will prevent the back heel counter from being squashed down and ruining the support.

Place your heel on the ground with your toe aimed high in the air to drop your foot into the back of the shoe. If parents are putting kids shoes on, ask your child to sit in a chair while you stand in front of them putting their foot between your knees. This will have the same effect.

Starting with the laces at the bottom – closest to your toes – firmly pull the shoe laces working your way towards the top of the shoe. Tie the bow.