News

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.



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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.outsidebusinessjournal.com/freeretail/snewsarticle-contest.html. Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.