Not often, but every once in a while, a Chilean company gets a plug on my blog. I am not in the business of offering free advertising or promoting brands in general. However, when some benefit arises that truly affects the well-being of newcomers to Chile, I am happy to report it.
For nearly 20 years, I have searched in vain in Chile to find size 13 shoes (size 46 in Chile). Normally, one can find up to Chilean size 44, and in recent years size 45 shoes have been seen. But beyond that size there are slim píckings’. Chileans rarely have larger feet, except for the occasional guy of German, British or Croatian descent, and thus there has not been sufficient demand to keep larger sizes in stock. The usual answer I have heard to my inquiries at shoe stores was to get shoes in another country or have them tailor-made.
There are a couple of big and tall stores in Santiago that have carried larger sizes now and then, but the supply has been anything but constant, in my recollection at least, and I did not bother to check much because price to quality ratios were outrageous in those stores. It was simply easier to pick up a few pairs of shoes while traveling abroad to the USA or Europe. Shops in Argentina also carry larger shoe sizes, especially in custom-made dress shoes. Another choice in recent years has been to use Amazon or another service and just pay the expensive shipping and customs duties.
However, USA chain Merrell in Chile now has some size 13 shoes in stock. While checking out 5 or 6 stores in the Marina Arauco mall in Viña del Mar, I was surprised to find that Merrell had two pairs of size 13 shoes! None of the other stores did. I picked up one of the two pairs on hand.
Note that shopping for size 13 shoes is a different buying experience in Chile. One does not start by looking at the shoes on display and asking to see one in his size. Instead, one asks that all size 13 shoes available in stock be brought out. Actually one asks for both size 46 (which until now has not been available) and size 45, on the odd chance that one finds a large or incorrectly-tagged 45.
Merrell’s only presence in South America is in Chile, and it has nine stores in Santiago, and one store each in Concepción, Viña del Mar, Temuco, Los Angeles and Valdivia. Their website has details, also stating that they ship anywhere in Chile free of additional charge. Plus, returns and exchanges by mail are also free of delivery charges. So Merrell is bringing some American convenience to Chile. If you are not familiar with the brand, I can attest that it is very high quality. The shoes are not cheap, but the prices are not outrageous and they are a bit cheaper on the internet. Check for seasonal lineup changes so you can get 30% to 40% off on the outgoing stock.
By the way, I checked back with the Viña del Mar store a few days after my initial purchase and found that a new shipment had just arrived, including 5 more pairs of size 46! I rushed down to see the spectacle and asked the saleslady to bring out all the available stock. She did so. However, two of the five were actually size 45 and thus did not fit. The other three pairs of shoes were fine, and I left with two of them. A man with bigger feet in Chile learns to stock up when he can.
If you want the last pair or two in Viña del Mar, better hurry! The saleslady there called branches in Santiago for me and found that four of them had size 13 shoes as well, probably in more copious quantities. So, like most things in Chile, if you are living in Santiago you will have an easier time finding larger shoe sizes. And if you are living in Viña del Mar and the local Merrell store does not have any size 46 on hand, you can always make your way to Costanera Center in Santiago, Metro Tobalaba (red line 1).