When you shop for shoes do you walk around the store or department and pick them out or do you allow the salesperson to show you what they think you might be looking for? As you all know, I enjoy browsing shoes, fondling them, and then walking away from them. Most of the time when I am doing this the salespeople don't approach me. However, when I walk in with the intention of purchasing shoes, they always seem to know and approach me.
I went to Neiman's yesterday to look at shoes. I didn't think I had the intention of buying but I must have since a very nice saleslady named Susan (fate!) approached me and offered to help me look. I told her I was looking for flats in a size 7 narrow. She immediately directed me toward the Ferragamos, a wise move. I love Ferragamos and they do come in narrow sizes. Here's what surprised me: I picked up a pair that I loved and she picked one up that she ostensibly loved for me and I tried them both on. Turns out, she had picked the better shoe. That made me wonder if perhaps we should accept help from people who know shoes and feet when we shop for those very important parts of our lives. And should we do this for all beautiful things? I wonder this, also, because I then went to Nordstrom's to look at jewelry and had the exact same experience: a saleslady convinced me to try on a necklace that I initially thought was too sparkly but turned out to be utterly fabulous. I think this all boils down to the fact that I happened upon two very competent salesladies from the old school of shopping.
Stanley Marcus made his salespeople go through training on how to treat people and how to be a conscientious salesperson. The people who worked in the different departments were supposed to know that particular product well enough to help people shop, not just to check them out when they were finished. This has become a rare thing in shopping now and I think we have suffered for it. When the only people we have to see for fashion advice are distant and unavailable to us personally (people in magazines) how else are we to learn about the products we buy and about what is right for us? Even I, the supreme lover of shoes and veteran shopper, needed help.
When was the last time you found a truly knowledgeable person in a store? Why would they be there when the pay can be so low? I worked in a bookstore 15 years ago and I was amazed to find that most of the people who worked there didn't actually read books. Can you imagine? It was just a job. This is my point (finally): we have lost much of the access to expertise and we have lost much of the pride that comes with that expertise in every day life. It's a shame. If you find a salesperson that really knows their stuff, tell them how much you appreciate them and then tell the rest of us so that we can go appreciate them for ourselves.
Unless they tell you to buy Crocs. Don't tell us about them, we don't want to know.
Today's favorite shoe:
Constanca Basto "Caradoc"
Saturday, February 17, 2007