I've been buying my boots from Big 5 or Sports Authority for some time now.
Columbia, Hi-Tech, Denali, I've bought all of them, and I'm getting a little tired of the spotty quality on them.
The laces in particular have the life expectancy of a Kleenex during flu season, and an almost new pair (couple of months old) just had BOTH laces snap!
I bought some really good laces via Amazon a while back, so I'm covered there, and I have several hundred feet of "550" paracord, so I can always make "Heavy Duty" laces that will probably outlast the boots!
Not looking for $300 boots, just something better than the $50 "on Sale" ones I always seem to get.
I switched from wearing good "tennis" shoes and cross-trainers to the boots 10 or 12 years ago to get better ankle support. I busted one ankle and dislocated the other one (yep, at the same time!) around 1985, and as I got older and more active outdoors, I needed something better with more ankle support.
The soles on most of the hikers I've tried have always given me good traction on dirt and in the wet, so I don't need any exotic Tacticool soles, either.
Not looking for full height combat boots, either, just some decent "mid length" hikers.