Today was one of the most frustrating days of my life. My family is going on a vacation soon and it’s absolutely a must that my 15 month old daughter have water shoes. I’m not obsessive – it’s imperative. Michigan waters have been infested with Zebra Mussels, which are like sharp barnacles that latch onto the bottom of boats, rocks – if there is something to latch onto, it will. There have always been Zebra Mussels, but now it’s an out-and-out infestation. I had planned on buying her water shoes (or aqua socks, or hydro shoes, or swim shoes – whatever you want to call them) anyway, due to the rocks in the water, but now the need to buy them is pressing. How fun would playing in the water be to an infant if she lacerates her foot on those barnacle-like mussels? Not much, I assure you.
I started the day out casually checking the shoe department of Meijer. I was only a little surprised that they had nothing available than “water sandals”, which are open-toed and open-heeled and do not provide much safety against sharp objects in the water. I rolled my eyes and moved onto the next store, Target. Much like Meijer, Target had plenty of water shoes, but none for infants. The smallest size available was a 7 and my daughter wears a size 3. And so the day of searching went on: Payless Shoe Source, DSW (my husband thought it was a regular shoe store and not just for women), Value City, Walmart, Kmart. NOTHING! It’s was as if there was no market for water shoes – actual shoes, not sandals – that were sized for an infant.
Finally, after all this running around, I sat down in front of my computer to find an online store that sold water shoes for infants. I was absolutely shocked at the lack of true websites selling infant water shoes. After 30 pages of my various Yahoo searches (“water shoes” +infant; “infant water shoes”; “swim shoes” +infant, etc.), pretty much every link I clicked was a phony page that had absolutely nothing to do with water shoes or shoes at all. It would be that oh-so-familiar list of unrelated links, even though the titles would be misleading. Of the few “real” sites I found, there was only a limited amount of shoes and all were size 6 and up. Size 6 and up is a TODDLER shoe or a CHILDREN’s shoe, not an infant. It’s highly misleading as being titled under ‘infant’.
After hours and hours of scouring the Internet, there were only two contenders for water shoes: Sand Pail Kids (http://sandpailkids.com/flipflopssandles.htm) and Baby Ultimate (http://www.babyultimate.com). Unfortunately, the smallest size was a five and still a far cry from an infant three. I should also mention that there were two UK sites, but the size charts are different in the UK and one might want to make sure they’ve got the correct size and pricing before ordering. Hopefully, I have saved other people some searching. And also, I hope someone thinks ‘What an underdeveloped market! I should start an infant water shoe business’. That would make this fruitless day worth it.