Shoe Sale Psychology (Top 10 Finalist)

My co-worker Peter and I have been driven to insanity. I think it is because of shoe sales. The sun is barely up and we’ve already been mountain biking for a while, in order to get out before the store opens. Like Calvin and Hobbes discussing philosophy on an out-of-control radio-flyer, we’re bombing down some local single-track while discussing the psychology behind outdoor shoe sales.
Author:
Publish date:
WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

My co-worker Peter and I have been driven to insanity. I think it is because of shoe sales. The sun is barely up and we’ve already been mountain biking for a while, in order to get out before the store opens. Like Calvin and Hobbes discussing philosophy on an out-of-control radio-flyer, we’re bombing down some local single-track while discussing the psychology behind outdoor shoe sales.

I calmly make the affirmation, “I don’t sell people what they want, I sell them what they need.”

This is because many shoe buyers clearly have never worn shoes prior to adulthood. Or otherwise they have developed notions about their feet from grocery isle tabloids. Fifty-year old people want me to measure their feet, and then feel the end of their shoe as though I can actually tell where their toe is through a hiking boot. “Yeah, that’s a great fit.”

A few days ago a man was looking to buy hiking shoes and he told me his feet were really wide. So naturally I brought out every pair of wide shoes in his size, all of which squeezed his “bulbous” feet. On the brink of blessing a local competitor store with his nearly circular feet, I called in a co-working pinch-hitter. In a moment of sheer tag-team brilliance, my co-worker measured the width of his foot, discovered it was only slightly wider than a B, and sold him a narrow Vasque.

This is only the beginning of the madness found in the “shoe pit,” where I daily answer questions about hiking and running shoes like, “…yes, but can I walk in these?” Today a man wanted full leather backpacking boots but wouldn’t wear any that were Gore-Tex because he was convinced they wouldn’t breath…after all,thick, treated leather is known for breathability.

Many people have developed the perception that they must have the ideal footwear for everything, or not even risk leaving the house. Take the hardened gear-head rock climber who needs backpacking boots to trek to the climb, approach shoes to get closer, flip-flops to belay, climbing shoes to climb, and pack-able light-weights to clip to a harness.

Perhaps this is the natural result of the feet being the farthest body part from the brain. It may somehow involve polarity, but it certainly ends up in psychosis – all of which rumbles out onto the floor during shoe sales.

by John Reuter

Through July 1, retail sales staff answered the contest call to submit a story of survival and perseverance in the face of challenging customers. The story titles with summaries that made the first round of qualifications are listed below, and each is now in the hands of our judges to decide on the top 10. You can read each story in its entirety by going to the contest landing page -- click here.

Ten lucky story writers will each win over $1,000 in product prizes based on the contest judges' votes. Here is where you come in! Of those 10, one will be named the grand prizewinner, cashing in on a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007. Three others will be named official "honorable mentions," and in addition to the valuable prizes, each will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed toward attendance at an Outdoor Industry Association-sponsored event, such as Outdoor University, Mountain Sports Festival or the OIA Rendezvous. The grand prize winner will be announced at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006. We will determine the grand prize winner and the three runner up winners based on popular vote (sorry judges) -- those among the top ten receiving the most votes win, it's that simple. This is for store pride, for knowing you have a winner amongst you, so vote as often as you like. Tell your friends. Tell your friends friends. Tell your dog -- but only if he can work a computer keyboard.

Deadline for voting is August 1, 2006.Click here to register your vote now!

Did you miss out on this year's contest? Bummer, but no worries. If you haven't already done so, outdoor retail staff can get ready for next year by activating a subscription now at www.snewsnet.com/freeretail/snewsarticle-contest.html. Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.

Related

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

A Positive Spirit for Sales (Top 10 Finalist)

At the end of a long day, when I haven’t had time to break for lunch much less the bathroom, when I had to patiently explain to first–time kayakers that I couldn’t both hold the boat and help them back onto the dock, when a Yakima Q-tower stretch kit fit goes horribly wrong, it ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Loafers on Denali (Top 10 Finalist)

He was a balding, portly, shorter fellow dressed in hemmed khaki slacks, brown loafers, and a nicely pressed pink polo shirt. Round coke bottle-esque glasses gave his face an awkward appearance. His rental car was a grey Chevy Impala.When he walked into Moosely Seconds I asked ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

I Should Have Known (Top 10 Finalist)

“Excuse me, but would you answer a couple questions about GPS’s?” the middle-aged man asked. “Sure”, I said. What I was thinking though, was “damn, not exactly my strong suit!” I looked around trying to be as casual as possible, hoping I’d locate a staffer who had more ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Nun on the Run (Top 10 Finalist)

So it’s Palm Sunday, the store is open and the alarm goes off. We rush to the front door, hoping for a chase down Cedar Avenue—what’s more fun than chasing down bad guys?But instead there’s just a little old lady with a fatigue jacket, pockets the size of Volkswagens, and she is ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

I Need Some Shoes! (Runner Up Award)

So, after 8 years on the road as an outdoor manufacturer’s rep…I have decided to return to my roots, park the van and step back onto the floor of the shop where I got my start. This time (I worked here for 11 years prior to becoming a “rep-tile”) I’m not only selling (and doing) ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Clashing Cultures

I've been working in the outdoor retail industry for years, but this was my first year working in the states. I had never come across such an amusing day like this before. To start with my accent (I'm from New Zealand) doesn't help the situation when talking to customers who ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Two Scouts v. My Bladder (Runner Up Award)

Fact: Earlier this morning I drank two Nalgene bottles of water, a Donald Duck orange juice, and a large cup of coffee. Fact: My bladder is the size of a small kiwi.So with these two important facts in the back of your head, let me describe my situation. The store had been ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Guide to Surviving Customers (Runner Up Award)

During my brief yet potent tenure as a retail employee, I’ve witnessed the gamut of customer species, ranging from the miserly Waddem tightus, whose survival depends on their ability to procure an additional 2% off any purchase, to the snarling Jerkis completem, whose only ...read more