Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dear Shoe Sales People

I know I don't fit the pigeon-holed model of what you define as "normal".  I am tall, broad in the shoulders, long in the leg, and I have big feet. Not big as in "average in men is a 10, so a 12 is big".  Big as in "how many cows will it take to make these boots?" big.

I wear a 15.  It's bigger than average, but not so big that I have to get shoes custom made because Nike, Adidas, and Rockport don't make my size.  I have successfully found shoes in my size at retail stores in the past, but have fallen into a habit of buying them on-line because the brick and mortar crew normally only stock one or two pairs of size 15 anything.  It always seems to be oxfords when I need sneakers, sneakers when I need boots, and sandals when I need dress shoes.

Today, I noticed that my canvas tennis shoes were starting to look pretty ratty, and decided to start the process of finding a pair of shoes to run around in.  I'm not looking to hike the Pyrenees, run the Derby Festival Marathon, or dress for dinner with the president.  I wanted a pair of cloth sneakers that I could wear daily throughout the summer while doing such things as walking the zoo, going to the store, and playing in the yard.

In the first store I went to, exactly one pair of shoes was found that was size 15, and these were black patent leather Nike basketball shoes with shiny chrome accents.  Pass.  I asked a salesman if they had any larger pairs of shoes in the back, but the music was so obnoxiously loud he thought I was looking for the Converse tennis shoes and pointed me at the stack of size 8 to 12 shoes I'd already gone through.

The second store was much quieter, but after combing the  store and finding precisely zero pairs of shoes in my size, I again asked a saleslady for assistance.  The look of disdain for even bothering her for my mutant sized shoes told me I was out of luck.  Surprise, surprise, they didn't have anything either.

I then went to a sporting goods store to look at Vibram Five Fingers shoes.  I've seen a few people wear them, and I've been told they're great, comfortable kick around shoes.  Yes, they're a little more than I was budgeting for at $80-$85 a pair, but I figured I'd try them this summer.  If I didn't like them, I could continue "Quest for Shoes".   I picked up the example shoe on the sales floor, and asked the nice man in the salmon pink button down shirt and khaki green cargo shorts if they carried my size.  He snorted through his nose ring when he sized me on the special Vibram sizing guide.  Apparently I'm a 48-49 size, which is at the very edge of human as far as that company is concerned.  He checked the back but reported that he had "nothing even close to that huge" in stock.  He offered to check to see if a larger pair could be ordered for me.

I returned home wearing my ratty old Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes.  After two hours of searching for a pair of shoes with no luck and having my human-ness questioned by three separate sales people, I'm a little dis-enchanted with the whole "support local businesses" thing.  

Guys, I'm a consumer. I have money I want to give you for your products.  I'm even willing to pay quite a bit of money for a pair of quality shoes that I like.  By not stocking my size in anything a grown-up would want to wear, or not at all, you take away your opportunity to take my money from me.  By giving me attitude when I ask for your help in your store,  you discourage me from bringing my money and the rest of my family to your establishments when they need shoes.

I'm going back to the on-line stores exclusively.  Yes, it's preferable to hold a pair of shoes in your hands and try them on before buying them, but I know what kinds of shoes fit my feet well, and I'll just keep buying those kinds.  If the local small business people don't want to stock for my needs and give me grief when I try to get their help in giving them my money, then they can go piss up a rope.


Christina LMT said...

Idiots. You should write letters to the store owners/managers and describe your experiences. Or just direct them to this post!

Anonymous said...

Nordstrom's and
David wears a 15 and I know from experience these two places always have 15's. Nordstrom's prides themselves on having BIG shoes in stock all the time, and in both casual and dressy. You will be really surprised when you go in. Just tell the person to bring out everything they have in a 15 and then sit back and wait to be impressed.

DaddyBear said...

We're just a touch too white trash to have a Nordstrom's in Louisville. I know, I know, the horror!

Zappos is usually where I get my shoes. Their warehouse and shipping center is just south of town, so I get the shoes next day and pay for 3 day delivery.

I just like to be able to go into a store occasionally and try on a pair of shes before I buy them for a change.

Anonymous said...

Is there a Bloomingdale's/Dillard's/Barney's or something like that around there. Generally high end stores can afford to stock a larger selection hence the large selection of size 14,15 and 16. I know you've got to pay a bit more but it is nice to walk in a try something on.

DaddyBear said...

I think there's a Dillard's around here somewhere. I'll have to check it out.

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