There’s something special about a new pair of sandals. Maybe it’s because their sudden emergence is a sure sign of spring. Like robins.

Maybe it’s the sudden airiness of sandals after a winter confined to leaden boots.

Or maybe it’s the fact that shimmery pink toenail polish happens to look best when bordered by thin white straps and kitten heels. 

Definitely one of those.

But sandals are surprisingly expensive. On a recent jaunt, Shopping Siren noticed a plethora of $30 flip-flops and $50 slip-ons. Men’s, women’s, kids’, it didn’t matter. Infant Sketchers? So adorable I actually had a hard time putting them down — and I don’t even have kids. But if you want to bring such utter adorableness home to tiny not-yet-walking feet, be prepared to open your wallet. Wide.

So I gave myself a challenge: Find 10 pairs of sandals for $10 each or less.  Think adorable and affordable. For the whole family.

It can’t be done? I laugh in the face of it-can’t-be-done. Ha!

Well, OK, so it wasn’t easy. I had to go many places to find my 10. Because clearance racks ruled, sizes were often limited. But the sandals were all cute . . . and cheap.

And not one was fur-lined or waterproof. 

* Rafters kids’ flip-flops, various sizes, Lamey Wellahan, $5.95

Basic flip-flops in various colors and with adorable fruit patterns along the insole. Not a sale find, so there are tons of sizes. Sturdy enough for kidswear, cheap enough you won’t cry when little Mackenzie loses them at the beach. Again.

* Nickels women’s “Surfslide” sandals, limited sizes, Famous Footwear, $10

Backless sandals with small wedge heels and a side buckle. The strappy part is a slightly glossy, very subtle lizard print in black or brown. Regularly $49.99. Dress up with slacks or dress down with jeans. Proof that clearance can also be classic.

* Roxy women’s flip-flops, size 9, Famous Footwear, $10

Chunky brown flip-flops with leopard print thong. Regularly $39.99. I wouldn’t pay $40 for flip-flops. Ever. But I could justify splurging on a $10 pair of fun leopard prints. Grr.

* Buster Brown toddler girls’ pink plastic sandals, sizes 5-8, Famous Footwear, $10

These hard plastic sandals didn’t look particularly comfortable, but your average 3-year-old girl probably won’t care much about that because the heels light up. It’s very cool and very cute, and if they made these in women’s sizes I would seriously consider getting a pair. Maturity, pthht!

* Rafters men’s flip-flops, various sizes, SuperShoes, $6.99

Dark gray flip-flops with a netting accent on the thong. Masculine but light. Sturdy but comfy looking. Nice but cheap. Exactly what you’d want in a sandal. Probably not exactly what you’d want in a guy, though.

* Northside kids’ black sports sandals, size 3, SuperShoes, $9.98

These black sports sandals are light, offer good tread and have Velro straps. Although they seemed slightly more boyish, they could probably work for either boys or girls. Perfect for tree climbing or bike riding or Wii playing, or whatever it is kids do these days.

* Grasshoppers women’s “Seaport III Sling” sandals, size 10, SuperShoes, $9.97

Taupe fabric sandals you can either slip on or use the Velcro heel strap. Sort of grandma-ish, but they looked extremely comfortable. Sigh. If only the heels lit up.

* Beach Basics men’s slip-on sandals, various sizes, SuperShoes, $7.99

Black slip-on backless sandals with a Velcro adjustment at the toe. Great for the surfer dude. Or the wannabe surfer dude. Or the guy who likes watching wannabe surfer dudes fall into the water from the safety of his dry beach blanket. Duuuude. 

* LA Underground girls white flip-flops, limited sizes, SuperShoes, $9.98

Delicate white flip-flops with pink and silver faux rhinestones along the thong. Sandal bling is really the best kind of bling.  

Best find: Unlisted “Sale Away” women’s sandals, size 9, SuperShoes, $5

Pretty high-heeled strappy sandals in white. Regularly $44.99. Now $5. If that’s not a best find, I don’t know what is.

Think twice: Sporto black suede women’s boots, size 10, Super Shoes, $10

Regularly $79.99, these boots are also a good deal. And they’re kinda nice — black suede flats with a slightly pointed toe that makes them look like a mock cowboy boot. Except we’re done with boots. Totally.

For at least six months, anyway.

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who don’t feel the need to have paws that light up) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]

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