So as a result, I really don't know what direction to take.
Well part of that problem is these are technical answers to "circumvent" a specific-technical-problem(tag limit) but your getting dissonance because you want a business solution to some nebulous larger business problem (filtering?navigation? customer understanding????) which your implementing through 1 small feature of a much larger platform.
Technicalwise not knowing the direction is okay when your sensemaking a lot of technical detail and only time experimenting/learning/training/hiring someone can fix that. Technical solution is to figure out why you have to get more than 1000 tags and lower the amount being fetched with some other feature, etc etc
Businesswise this often indicates there's not an actual business "problem" with a true supporting business case($$$) but more likely either a personal mission or assumption causing burden and attachment.
If there was a business case then it should be easy to get a real concrete number for the value$$$ to risk, and not sentiments like "mission critical" or "well x company has it".
If you don't have the budget|time to risk any direction available to you in solving a business problem then minimize what's causing the problem.
Otherwise all it's doing is complicating your business model, thought process,time investments,etc and increase misplaced frustration.
Dial back the use of tags, minimize the inventory management, define things in concrete monetary terms, etc or get stuck in loops:
Why custom developer -> because app, Why app? because tags, Why tags? because filters, why filters? because lots of products, why lots of products? because we assume customers want them and need to filter them , how to filter them? with tags
Information architecture is difficult even for pros, especially with large product lines and using platforms like shopify; which have sanity limits on things for your own protection because shopify wasn't built just for you and your specific case it's a kitchen sink for the masses to use off the shelf.
Get basics in place then when you have a grasp on things then scale up investment(money,education,time).
If you still can't find your way then find an expert to talk to here's a google search
( i could have sworn there used to be an IA category on the experts directory /shrug, it's probably mushed into set-up-products-and-collections now)
 excessive tags apparently lower theme rendering performance
Thank you very much for all of your advice. I really appreciate it. You make great some great points.
I have since discovered that a filtering app does circumvent the limit but one of the customer service associates had given me incorrect information. I think for my budget and where my business currently is, this might be the best option for the time being. I think you advice of "Get basics in place then when you have a grasp on things then scale up investment(money,education,time)." is a great one and might take that path for now.
Thank you again for all of your advice and for sharing some of your expertise. It is much appreciated.
Please take care and stay safe!
Shopify's pricing page says unlimited products.
Back in the spring of 2020, they imposed a new rule: Once you have 50k product variants (which could mean just 10k products with 5k variants each, for instance), then Shopify limits you to adding 1k products a day.
You might be able to convince them to waive the limit for you if you have a good reason. It might take weeks, if they do it at all.
That limit does not apply to Shopify Plus stores ($2k a month in fees!)
I find it--err, surprising--that they do not disclose that limit on their pricing page, they did not notify merchants, and they did not even notify most gurus (I had to tell several about it).
We are wrestling with the tag limit, too. Shopify does not have a public article about the max number of tags in a store (only max tags per product). Some people say 250, some say 1,000. Some say 1,000 but that you can only access 250.
Good luck to both of us.
Unlimited products != unlimited server and bandwidth usage.
Tag limit only matters if your trying to make an endless amount of smart collections that need them.
Beyond that is a pretty good indication you need to be investing in custom app and UI development to manage specific businesses needs.
Use metafields for excess product information as you can only use 3 tags at a time for filtering anyway.