When I lived in Illinois, my walking mainly consisted of going from the house to the car to the store. Sometimes I ventured further and walked along a sidewalk or a path in the woods. For these short jaunts of less than a few miles, any sort of shoe would work, even flipflops if need be. For that reason, I never gave much thought to owning a true walking shoe- one that would be comfortable all day as I covered many miles.
I first discovered my need for comfortable shoes after I found myself spending more of my time getting around by foot rather than by car. Traversing many miles from coffeeshop to farmer's market, library to Whole Foods usually left me with some sort of foot discomfort. It didn't take me long to discover that Teva sandals and Keen shoes offered up the comfort needed to go for many miles all day.
Interesting how my life used to center around the automobile and the required considerations of reliability and mpg and how now I am more concerned about the quality of my walking shoe and how many miles I can go in it all day.