Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Shopping for Shoes can be Tricky - and How a Good Nose Can Really Help

Seriously, I need a new pair of shoes. I walk a lot. I walk to my workplace. To the train station. Almost anywhere. And I love walking! It's my form of exercise. The recent demise of my more than 2 years old Adidas sneakers, it's time for me to buy a new pair. This thought has been lingering in my head for sometime now. There was a sales a month back, but I didn't purchase any shoes because the salesperson (I suspect from China) wasn't helpful, and downright rude at times, giving me "the look". This sales happened at Studio R, KLCC.

Malaysians are helpful too
Then just today, I happened to be at the same place again. And again, there was sales! Yes, it's the Mid-Year Sales. But this time, it's different. The salesperson is Malaysian, and he was extremely attentive and helpful! There were times I got a bit irked by his articulation, because he seems like a robot and talked in full sentences "Yes sir, I will go check for you. Yes, this is the 40% discount, and the price is, please let me go check" and off he went to the chart to see the price. But he was extremely nice. At the risk of sounding racist, I won't mention his race (but he's sure not Chinese or Malay). Tssk, tssk...

At the centre of attention
So I went and looked at the showcase of shoes on display - 20%, 10%, 40%. Now, I'm not the crazy about discount sort of shopper, mind you. I do look for the right shoes. Even if it's discounted at 50%, I won't even considering buying it unless I'm very comfortable with the shoes. The nice salesperson was with me the whole time, and he wasn't even bothered by other shoppers there, I was his main focus. Aaaah, such bliss. His attention on me only makes me feel sort of "trapped" in a situation where I just have to buy something, so he could get a commission. But he doesn't look like he's desperate for sales, he was genuinely interested in serving my needs. Seriously, I feel it.

So helpful, it smells like...
Now I don't know whether this salesperson might have seen me on TV or read my blog or not, but he was totally committed in serving my needs. How? Well, for starters, I asked him about a particular shoe and the size available, and immediately he went to check. Then I saw another pair of shoes, and asked him about the size available, and he did the same. No complaint, look or unwanted gesture as if he's annoyed. Well, I wasn't playing him a fool, for I'm seriously looking to purchase.

My new Reebok RunTone
Finally, I got my eyes set on the Reebok Runtone. What is Runtone? It's an innovative footwear solution designed to tone and strengthen  key leg muscles with every run. Then it also has the SmoothFit technology that creates a smooth, comfortable, irritation-free fit. That's because all seams are either eliminated or sealed both inside and outside the shoe. The soles look different too, and quite desirable, for I really want to feel the "bounce" in my walk.

Slip the Finger
The salesperson was also good in providing me information. He told me that if I'm buying a running shoe, be sure a finger can be slipped into the back of your heel. That is the space needed for your feet to move around when you're vigorously running. Like for me, I usually prefer a shoe that fits my feet snugly with no space in between. He said it depends on individual, and also the shoe might get loose after some time.

We are all feet mutants
Another interesting I found out is my feet. My left foot is actually bigger than my right! Oh my gosh,  panicked, I quickly consulted the salesperson and he said it's actually very normal. I was relieved he told me that for a moment I thought I might be a mutant ready to transform into some kind of Foot Man. Why I noticed that is because my left shoe always feel tighter to slip into any shoe compared to my right foot. I wonder does it have to do with the way our brains think. Creative people are known to use more of their right brain, hence the abnormal enlargement of the left foot. Interesting theory to ponder upon, isn't it?

Each feet size comes in 2-3 pairs
After enquiring and thinking through the shoe collections, I've finally decided on the Reebok Runtone. My investigative nature tends to run amok when coming to any conclusion. I finally asked a question of whether if there's any more stock for the shoe in my size. The salesperson said there left only 2 pairs for my particular size. The reason I asked is because prior to that, I saw another customer trying on the exact same pair of shoes at my exact same size. In my head, I wouldn't want to buy anything that is tried on by some other people - and what is that person has big fat smelly feet? Yikes...

The Mark of True Sales Person
The salesperson was quick to sense my this particular insecurity and off he ran to the backroom to get the size I wanted, just to reserve for me. Auuuww, that's touching. He actually ran, for God's sakes into the backroom. In my mind, I knew I have to buy this shoe. This guy has put in the effort to serve me. Of course, he also didn't push me to purchase. He was seriously genuinely wanted to serve me, or more like talking with me and answering my questions about the shoe. The problem with the shoe is the colour. It's all white, which presents the problem of it being dirtied. 

Finding the Right Fit Factor
I asked him if there's other colours. There were - the brown pair, but it doesn't have my size. This is the thing about shopping for shoes. Personally, I don't like shopping for shoes if the salesperson is not helpful to me.  You see, shoes is a very personal object. I need to feel the fit and comfort and the colour. All these concerns running through my mind and at the same time I am also gauging the level of helpfulness of the salesperson. It really takes a lot out from me. But thank goodness, this guy hits the mark and scores. See, starring in a commercial sometimes helps. Phew...

Finding the Right Colour Factor
I took one last look at the shoes, and found out that actually for the RunTone line, all the shoes have the white colour theme. Not one is totally black or full coloured. So it really doesn't matter to choose or wait for the coming colour collection. I figured I'll just ignore what others think when they see my white colour sneakers looking dirtied and smudged. I'll still wear it proudly. But truly, the salesperson really helps. Especially the point where I showed my concern about the shoe being worn by other shoppers.

The Who Has Tried My Shoes Before Factor
The salesperson referred me to his senior. He asked me to check at the laces being tied. Usually if it is new, the laces will be intact and not undone. Again this point can be subjective, because the shoe is brought in from another store, and they will have no idea whether this particular shoe has been worn or tried on by the shoppers from the other shop. Even if the shoes are new or directly from the manufacturer, the sales personnel would open the box and check each shoe. So it's really subjective, it seems, to determine whether the shoes are fresh or picked before.

One Solution - Your Nose
But there's one tip given by the salesperson that I liked - smell the insides of the shoe. During the time, he actually asked me to smell the inside of the shoe as proof that it hasn't been worn or used before. He was so convinced of the purity of his product, that in certain degree, I was drawn into this belief. "Go ahead - smell the inside of the shoes" And I did! "And compare it with the other pair that was worn". And I did it too! I wanted to laugh, thinking back. But of course, when you're in my situation, you'll do just the same, come on. Personally, I find the chemical smell in the new, unworn shoes stronger compared to the worn shoes. So when in doubt - USE YOUR NOSE!