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If you're a size 6 1/2, get to Elx

Sample sizes of Pikolinos boots from the previous season are sold at clearance price - about $40 - at the shop-museum. Sample sizes of Pikolinos boots from the previous season are sold at clearance price - about $40 - at the shop-museum. (Patricia Harris for The Boston Globe)
June 21, 2009
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ELX, Spain -The Pikolinos Tienda Museo might be the best find in these parts since archeologists dug up the 4th century BC sculpture of La Dama d’Elx in 1897.

Botanists acclaim Elx’s palm forest, the largest in Europe. But fashionistas know the city as the contemporary footwear capital of Spain and home of the eco-chic Pikolinos brand. The hip young man at the tourist office was outlining walking tours through the palms when I interrupted and asked where I should buy shoes. He lit up and gave me directions to a decidedly un-chic industrial park on the edge of town.

Most visitors to the Pikolinos shop-museum breeze through the museum with its earnest displays showing how ancients crafted shoes from esparto grass and detailing the simultaneous rise of Elx and Pikolinos in Spanish fashion. The bargain racks are in the back of the store, past this season’s (full-price) line. With discounts of 30 percent and more, even jaded bargain hunters find the prices a steal for hand-sewn shoes with distinctive stitched details and tooled leather. Best buys are on last season’s sample sizes (the equivalents of 6 1/2 for women, 8 for men).

This spring the shop cleared out its classy sample boots at 30 euros, about $40. That’s for Spanish boots, as Bob Dylan would say, of Spanish leather.

Pikolinos Tienda Museo, C/ Germán Bernacer 4, Elx, Spain. 011-34-965-681-488. www.pikolinos.com. Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., Saturday 10-2, 4:30-8.

PATRICIA HARRIS