Running Analogies I Never Get To Use At The Store

This is just the shit that rolls around in my head all day.

  • Imagine stepping off a 4ft counter onto the hardwood floor. What would you do? Instinctively you’d land on the balls of your feet with flexed ankles and bent knees. That’s your body’s shock absorbers. Now, imagining landing on your heels with your knees locked. How much cushion you would want in order to do that? Is there any amount that you think would make that feel good? No? That’s why no amount of cushion in your shoes is going to protect your joints. Your joints protect themselves if you let them.
  • Do you know the story of Cornflakes? A hundred years ago a guy thought bland food would cure masturbation and thirty years after that his nephew added tons of sugar so people would buy more. That’s it. That’s the whole billion dollar cereal industry and all the options you see in the super market. That’s also why modern running shoes are high heeled and max cushioned – weird assholes with dumb ideas start companies and then the priority is finding a way to make them appealing.
  • Everybody runs different? Sure, every car is different too but if your wheels are angling inward or outward and fighting against the efficient movement of the car, you don’t just say “Oh that’s just how she goes.” You fix whatever is misaligned. And not from the tires up but from the driver down.
  • And while we’re on the topic of Everybody Runs Different, don’t you find it just fucking quirky that only people with money for fancy science-magic shoes are afflicted with the problems cured by fancy science-magic shoes? God smited all the middle-class white women with dreaded over-pronation and not a single Kenyan school child, huh? Didn’t know Kenyan school kids were Moses’ chosen people on running shoe Passover.
  • If you tell me you need a Phillips Head Screwdriver…. and I pass you a Phillips Head Screwdriver… Don’t go “eww” then push it away and ask me if I have any other recommendations. If you want a fashion screwdriver go to the fashion screwdriver store.
  • Okay, a thing that happens every single day: People feel a bit embarrassed coming to a running store and saying they don’t run so, out of a dead silence, they’ll defiantly announce how far they walk or how long they’re on their feet for work. Which… fine. We need more people to think of themselves as athletes in the sport of normal life. The thing is, they’ll follow it up by saying they therefore need a shoe with tons of support and cushion. If you’re so proud of your damn bike why are you shopping for training wheels, tiger? I’ll happily work with someone who’s like “I’m a squishy little wuss and need all the help I can get” but I can’t tolerate some self-declared badass who’s suddenly all “Can you stwain the pulp from my owange juice?”

Okay, that wasn’t really an analogy and I’m getting dangerously close to just bitching about work so I’ll wrap it up. The funny thing is, I wrote this post because I used an analogy at work today and my co-worker was like “Will you write that down for me?” And when I opened this document to start I mentally couldn’t find a clue as to what I’d said to him earlier. So there’s more in there somewhere.

I Still Worry I’m A shoespirasist

I wrote a while ago about checking my confirmation bias and I feel compelled to rehash that before I start: I put up a poster in the store which references some studies about how pronation control shoes do nothing, max cushion shoes are hurting you, the usual barefoot zealot type stuff, and I realized that’s typical confirmation bias – I found what I wanted and then stopped looking.

So I looked some more and I found hundreds of studies confirming what I think. Well, one hundred fifty eight.

But what bugs me is I couldn’t find any “other side”. Not for running shoes anyway, I got into a rabbit hole of learning about tennis shoes and they made a pretty good case for orthopedics having performance benefits. (Here’s that link. Also this guy has a video where he buys one of Serena William’s shoes on eBay and buys the over the counter public version and cuts them in half to show the difference which is such pure shoe nerd I respect him forever.)

Even one of my go to shoetubers on the topic of heel drop was like shrug emoji. All the minimalist stuff makes sense to him but he still feels like cushion and heel are somehow normal. Like, they just have to be because otherwise why would most shoes have them? But also it’s worth pointing out that he’s had a ton of all the typical running injuries and had to learn exercises to correct them, not just buy more and more ‘supportive’ shoes.

Which brings me to the majority problem; the normalcy problem. Running is the only sport where a majority of participants report being injured every year. It’s weird to deflect to the idea of normal when the norm is injured.

Like, with smoking, everyone has some example of an uncle or someone who smoked a pack a day right up to the end and it never seemed like it was doing them any harm. The thing is the vast vast vast majority of smokers do see palpable harm and premature death from smoking so we can dismiss those anecdotes and say that smoking is definitively bad.

So here we are with most runners being injured and more and more of the gen pop having foot problems and kinetic chain problems and still everyone is like I guess we just need to smoke harder? Like, running injuries and foot problems have just gotten worse and worse since Nike debuted and took over the market and everyone had to copy them or go bankrupt but barefoot running is regarded as a niche trend that passed?

The thing is, particularly when it’s anonymous, anecdotal evidence still sways me. I worry that I’m the crazy one and I’ve just opted for certainty over… I want to say confusion but if I weren’t confused I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But you get it. It simplifies things to be dogmatic; To declare everything towards the center from me is just bullshit and never have to deal with any worry.

When anecdotal evidence isn’t anonymous though holy fuck am I elitist. I’ll get people in the store with feet that are just destroyed saying insoles relieved their Trinidadian cousin’s friend’s shin splints and I… I just die a little more inside.

Not everyone of course but it still shocks and disappoints me when I tell someone I can show them the stretches they can do for free and the much cheaper roller they could buy to surely solve their problem rather than a spend-and-hope, spending-is-solving, expensive-is-better strategy. And this is again where I sound like a conspiracy theorists because there is a dreaded they.

They want you to think expensive is better, they want you to be confused, they don’t want you to think you could solve your issues without them.

But really it’s that there’s 70+ shoes companies in an extremely competitive market and they’re all trying to make payroll by selling what sells. It’s like professional YouTubers – a sensational thumbnail and a clickbait title full of comments telling you you suck is, by the numbers, by the ad revenue, a better video than something sincere that’s totally true and useful but just a little dry.

It’s not evil to follow the sales numbers and worry about your employees feeding their kids.

And yet the thing is – this is me just turning into work venting now – people still get mad at me. In a personally impersonal way. I field complaints all the time where people tell me how much money they spent and their problem isn’t solved and I’m like I know! You spent your money dumbly like a dumb idiot and now you want my sympathy while you’re giving me attitude? Take my name down… ’cause you’re gonna be writing to customer service about me. I didn’t build the industry, I didn’t make the shoe or advertise the shoe, I didn’t chose the shoe to be in our corporate bullshit store, but sure act like the minimum wage employee you meet face-to-face is the author of all your pain. You righteous avenger, you.

I’ve already quit and everyday multiple times a day I wish I could quit again harder.

Anyway, anything left to say? Did I resolve anything for myself?

One thing I should mention that I don’t talk about enough is injury. Acute injury. If you just ruptured your Achilles, yeah, don’t get into barefoot shoes. Specific injuries, chronic and acute might have different specific needs. The problem is the gen pop has been deliberately mislead as to what’s an injury and what’s a weakness. A lot of things labeled as chronic injuries are in fact just weakness and you fix a weakness by getting stronger not by wrapping everything in a cast.

And because we’re talking about runners I have to say specifically I do not mean mental strength. Fighting through pain is being stupid not being strong. Being strong is your body being able to flourish when doing what you ask of it, not ignoring it. Mentally, if you want to be tougher, be tougher; physically, if you have plantar fasciitis, learn to stretch your fucking calves. Let your body do the work in a controlled way, let it practice, so that it doesn’t catastrophically fail you when it’s suddenly tested.

This has just turned into full on self reinforcement. I’d prefer a post be self exploration that gets me somewhere new but I’ll also take something that makes me feel better about where I am.

I Wish People Understood Running Shoes Aren’t “Good” Shoes

I feel like apologizing for sounding like a broken record but I think it’s because I have to talk about this every day at work, not necessarily that I’ve written about it too many times.

But regardless I will make my points immediately so you don’t have to read the whole thing to benefit – running shoes are specialty shoes, they are not magic cure-all good-for-everything shoes.

  • Running shoes are terrible “Everyday” shoes
  • Running shoes do not have “good” arch support
  • Running shoes are not good work shoes and telling me how many hours you’re on your feet won’t change that
  • Running shoes are terrible gym shoes
  • Running shoes will not “correct” anything about how you move unless the problem was caused by already wearing worse running shoes
  • You do not need to wear “good” running shoes just because you are old

A big part of my frustration comes from the fact those customers keep the lights on, they are actually my job’s core audience, and yet we don’t actually serve them well. The industry tells them we do but at the ground level we’re stuck serving them merely as best we can with terrible options. Like, we don’t even sell good running running shoes let alone good running shoes for non-running shoe problems. It’s like we’re a tennis shop selling badminton rackets to hockey players.

But that’s a corporate problem and I can’t hope to change that. I can only shout into the void and tell myself that I’m #informing people.

I think there’s two reasons at the heart of the problem. One is just marketing and there’s two sides to that coin too. Athletic shoe marketing obsessively uses words like support, structure, help, comfort, performance and promise you access to your best self; meanwhile medical advertisers treat feet like a Starbucks order where you gotta know if you’re a high arch, wide-foot, over-pronating, heel-striker; which is all nonsense to make you feel overwhelmed.

Now, some people LOVE being the Starbucks order of feet, it makes them feel unique and important. And like so many unique, important people they use tons of words they don’t understand. And those people I don’t think can be helped. At least not by me.

So top-down advertising is a problem. The second part of the problem is bottom-up. People have aches and pains and think athletic shoes will help. But, no, it’s being an athlete that would help. It’s what you do, not what you wear.

People want to walk in and buy the solution to a problem. I’ve learned that I have to sell someone a shoe first before telling them how to solve their problem for free with a few exercises or they will complain about me to national leadership.

Another part of the problem that I should acknowledge though is no one else is even trying to serve the market. Running shoes captured the whole make-feet-feel-good-please market because no one else is trying.

There are actually good running shoe manufacturers making all around great shoes but only marketing to hardcore runners so they don’t occupy enough of the market to be in in stores everywhere; while the Pop-Tart running shoe manufacturers make glorified lifestyle shoes that are actually worse than lifestyle shoes but they market them to everyone. Smartest of all they market them to women. Women make choices for themselves but also for their kids and for their husbands.

If you can convince parents they are doing the right thing for their kids by doing the magic voodoo gait analysis then you not only got them, you got the kid indoctrinated for life too.

And I think big lifestyle brands can’t risk looking like they care. Like, if Converse built an ad around being only 1/3 as bad for your feet as Nikes they’d be giving up their carefully cultivated care-free image.

There are some small companies that are really trying and I want to leave with something good and worthwhile so here’s a video from one of my go-to channels:

The myth of gait analysis pt 2

So I said in the previous post that even if in-store gait-analysis told us something useful it still wouldn’t matter. I didn’t properly explain that. So here we go:

If I were going to do an analysis it would this one from Bob & Brad:

And yet if someone failed these tests I wouldn’t use that information to sell them a particular shoe I would just say you aren’t ready to run. Go exercise until you are and then come back.

Which would not be a store that could keep the lights on. So instead the business model has to be you’re a pussy? Here’s your pussy shoes. Gimme 200 dollars and go get weaker.

Okay, that was drastic and I wrote it when I was annoyed. But I stand by it anyway. Because, back on point, it wouldn’t matter anyway if someone did pass what should be a bare-minimum-human-body-owners-manuel test – there’s no shoes in most shoe stores for you.

People offer up, desperately, a ton of useless information to their shoe salesmen and it doesn’t matter. Not because you don’t matter but because all the 32 options you see on the wall are basically the same option. I am trying to do good and have a positive impact and give you a joyful educational experience when you’re in the store yet at-the-end-of-the-day all I can actually do is find you a pair of shoes you like.

It’s like tomato sauce. Imagine the store was called The Pasta Sauce Place and yet all we had was 32 different types of tomato sauce.

People come in expecting – Not because they’re bad people (although some are of course) but because they’ve been promised by marketing – that we’ll be able to diagnosis what the perfect food is for them and meanwhile we lowly salespeople with no control over what’s available in the store have to be like …let’s try 4 different tomatoes, then eliminate 2 and try 2 more, then do that again… over and over until we have 2 then it’s finally a technical discussion of if you get heartburn which will make it least bad.

I have this thing where I imagine how to be a happy Sisyphus and push my boulder up the hill each day and I think if I were to push the same boulder, up the same hill each day I could find joy in perfecting the path; doing the same work but having it be easier and easier.

The problem in my job is that sometimes the boulder is a lot farther down the hill than you’d like; farther than it was with the last customer; the farthest down it’s been all week – and you just want to not bother. One time I seriously had an urge to leave the store mid-sentence when I was starting my spiel for a basically pleasant, totally naive old lady.

I was even preparing a you-need-to-leave speech for customers where rapport has failed and they don’t get my process although I have yet to deploy it. Like, if I have to dig you so far out of such an intellectual hole just to get some okay shoes then you are best served by me saying no. Which is a favour people do not like receiving.

I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but I’m some people’s shot of whiskey. And it’s rare I go a whole week without getting to actually explain running form and the value of shoes and do what I’d like my whole job to be.

And I am trying, right now you’re seeing the trying, to get upstream of the problem and educate people before they come in the store. The world doesn’t really need me because we have Kelly Starrett but I’m doing the best I can each day to spread the gospel.

What Really Goes On In A Running Store: The Myth Of Gait Analysis

Opening definitive statement: Any gait analysis that doesn’t involve a treadmill and a high speed camera is nonsense and even then there’s no useful running shoe information gathered.

This video, so shockingly lamely produced, is actually the best informational video on running shoes I’ve found in my years of searching.

It’s short, it’s clear, it’s unequivocal.

And if it were widely seen I could stop being confronted with the same moronic expectations every day at work.

I serpticiously put a poster up in the store that contains a bunch of this information to try and preempt the tedium and nonsense but, naturally, posters just become part of the scenery.

Now of course I worry about confirmation bias so I’ve been digging back in lately, trying to find out what the other side says and I’ve found… nothing. There is no other side. There’s nothing I can find defending heel drop shoes, orthodics, stability shoes and pronation control, etc. It’s just all grandfathered into the industry and the cultural knowledge.

I used to keep my copy of Brian Metlzer’s Kicksology at work with a highlighted passage about a running shoe study. This study took two groups, one assessed and assigned footwear using conventional gait analysis while another group was assigned at random… And there was no difference in injury rates. So if you go to a running store and they have you walk around barefoot and they nod knowingly – they’re still as good as you guessing at random.

Yet, I deal with people every week who want that bit of smoke and mirrors. It pervades the industry not because it gains any useful information but because it builds trust. It creates the illusion of expertise and it reinforces the customer’s vision of their own specialness. Just like everywhere else in society a wildly above average number of people are convinced they aren’t average. They believe that if the situation was simple they wouldn’t be confused; if this didn’t require expertise there wouldn’t be so many experts; so many options; so much.

But the truth is that’s not expertise, it’s just marketing. It’s all the same capitalism where what we’re selling is feeling good. We’re selling the act of purchasing and all the noise and ritual is just to enhance that so you’ll do it again. And the incentive in the industry is to keep you buying and buying again sooner.

The exponential increase of capitalism means an industry that sold 3 billion pairs of shoes 5 years ago needs to sell 6 billion this year to stay afloat.

Because the truth is a holistic approach to fitness will get you what you’re really after but it’s not super profitable to any one industry.

There’s a study referenced a few issues back in Runner’s World where pronators and neutrals were assessed for power output and the stability shoe group was in fact putting out less power – then they gave them some exercises for arch strength and got that power balance corrected.

So even if you believe that you need a stability shoe the right thing to do is still not to buy a stability shoe or an insole, it’s strength train and get your arches back.

Everyone else, every manufacturer of shoes and orthopedics and physio who convinces you your feet are just broken and you’re weak and need something more just wants your money even if they don’t know it. Even if they are well-intentioned salespeople trained by well-intentioned salespeople.

Follow Up To My Awful Company Post From Yesterday – It’s Still Awful

Got this gem of an email this morning.

From: Same fuckface @ My Work
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 11:47 AM
To: Me
Subject: RE: EPP Altras

An Ontario store just e-mailed me about your shoes – not sure how it ended up in Ontario but they are shipping it to you.
Thanks,

Andrew

Oh, you’re not sure, Andrew? How they ended up in Kingston is you mailed them there, Andrew.

And like, you have no idea? But… Shouldn’t you though? Something came through your work flow and got fucked up and you have no idea? I’d be trying fix that, my guy.

And btw, apology accepted. Way to take ownership.

What’s great is my email exchange with Shipping contains this exact phrase, as part of their telling me to fuck off and I copy/pasted it into my email with Andrew to be like, hey look how your staff are telling me to fuck off rather than helping:

we went and asked Andrew and he gave direction on what store it was for so that is where we sent the shoe

So Josh in shipping got a package, didn’t know what to do (great for someone who works in shipping), asked Andrew who told him to ship it to Ontario, then they both blew me off when I asked if they knew anything about this missing package saying there simply aren’t any missing packages and everything gets sent where it’s supposed to go. Only to have Ontario receive the package and email asking why they were being shipped a random pair of shoes and that they were sending them back.

So A) Thanks Ontario for not just keeping and selling my shoes at your location and B) Again, my own superiors at my company had no qualms about fucking me like that for no reason and had no intention of dealing with it.

Yet I’d be endangering my job if I pointed any of this out in official company channels.

Sweet world, thanks crony capitalism.

This Is Just Workplace Venting But Holy Fuck Is It Awful Dealing With My Own Company

Everyone at my work has a go-to horror story of emailing with the higher ups. Here’s my latest.

This is the end of an hour’s work on my part trying to track down a seemingly lost pair of shoes that are already paid for.

From: (Doucheydouchedouche @ My work)
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 1:13 PM
To: (sincere hard working me, also @ my work)
Subject: Re: EPP Altras

 

They had a packing slip with them, I said to ship to whatever store was listed there and that’s the extent I know about it.

That’s the whole email. Thanks top-of-the-food-chain, glad you’re the person I got directed to by everyone else who also didn’t give a shit to help.

Like, you’re not a surly teenager at a record store, you are a high up, central figure in the corporation.

And here’s a summary of the phone exchange with the shipping department from before that:

Shipping: If we got it on the 11th then we shipped it on the 11th

Me: Who did you ship it to?

Shipping: Whoever.

Me: Whoever? Whoever who?

Shipping: Whoever we were supposed to.

And I’m like no motherfucker because I’m who-supposed-to. Then he emails me the tracking info for a different company sending something to Kingston and says he hasn’t seen anything from yet a different company lately.

On the phone before Shipping I had talked to head office reception and even they had this same company-wide attitude of yeah, I probably did my job, who the fuck are you to ask.

They have this not-my-job-don’t-talk-to-me attitude about everything. Like, they have a not-my-job-attitude about things that are their exact job.

And it’s not that they are just not helping, it’s that they actively act like we – the employees on the ground level dealing with inventory and customers – need to fuck off.

Like, what do they think the company does? What is the point if not to enable us to do our jobs? Why aren’t they concerned when an issue’s been raised and supply chain has broken down?

And even still why be a dick about it? We’re on the same team. I’ve met city road crews that aspired to be harder working and more helpful.

I know that to you, dear reader (mostly Heather), this seems an over reaction to a single email but like I said, we all have these stories and stand around baffled by them whenever we have to interact with them.

Like [name]’s story is the time he got an email with a subject line like ‘this still isn’t right’ and then no body to the email just a chart we had no idea what to do with.

It’s like if your boss’ boss sent you a weather map for New Zealand and was like why is this wrong? Answer: I don’t fucking know, why don’t give me any clue as to what you’re actually asking me?

Or [other name]’s story about how he tried to helpfully tell a higher up that something we have a lot of in our inventory didn’t show up as being in our inventory on the public website. To which that higher replied with a screen shot of an actually not relevant page of the website and the words “Sure does” as if [other name] was doubting that the website itself existed I guess? I don’t know, I’m not such a fuckstick that I actively try not to figure out what someone is telling me when I pay them to help me run my business.

Like, we’re always doing the thing that you would punish us for not doing and yet you just act like we’re cunts. WTF? How do you have a business?

Fuck.

 

Author’s note: Still fuming, this was written as a brutal rant and then edited to not violate an NDA or anything. Fucking stupid Boomer company man bullshit.

What It’s Okay to Do In A Shoe Store

Twice a week I’ll get someone in the store who’s hilariously apologetic about the simplest things, this list is truly inspired by and dedicated to the women that I told to try a different shoe on each foot and she said “Can I? I didn’t know if that was okay”

So yeah, it’s okay to put a different shoe on each foot; It’s okay – even encouraged – to bring your insoles or orthopedics and take the stock insoles out; you can take the insoles out and stand on them like ski boots; you can keep trying on the same pair between every other pair if you feel like it’s the one to beat…

And you can come in with no intention to buy anything and still talk to us. What I see a few times a week is someone coming in, saying they’re fine just browsing, then they go stand at the shoe wall with no fucking clue what they’re looking at. It’s a menu they don’t know how to read.

I get it that customers have a feeling of guilt taking up a salespersons time, or a feeling of obligation that comes from taking up that time or a worry about being pressured into buying. But really, coming in to museum-stare at shoes then leaving with a cheery thanks makes us all feel stupid.

So I hereby declare that IT IS OKAY to tell us your concerns, your pains, your hopes and dreams, and pump us for ideas to look up on your own. It’s on the big, stone, OKAY tablets.

In fact, to a degree, to a fucking degree, it’s okay to come in just to feel heard. I use that phrase a lot at work and in life and it all starts with an old guy – Ed, I know him by name now – who came in and at first I was like, this is a talker, an old lonely coot who is not going to find anything he wants or needs at a store that sells 220 dollar hype shoes. But also, I had nothing else to do. I thought of it like sitting next to an old timer at the pub, you just hang out and listen and both have a pleasant time. So I just listened and listened and we came back to shoes a few times and then veered off again and when we came back I dug through the oldest, most neglected sales shoes to find him his grouchy old man wants and needs and he ended up buying them. Now whenever he comes in I’m thrilled to see him – because luckily he’s never come in when it’s busy.

And I even see it, and don’t mind it, when they aren’t fun and don’t buy anything. We had a woman come in – again, while there was nothing going on – and she was told by her doctor to an ankle-supportive hiking boot to protect a new injury. We have nothing like that and told her, sweetly and apologetically, that we had nothing like that and Atmosphere was the best nearby option. She still stayed and went over and over how she got the injury and what it was like to recover and she left visibly relieved. I’m certain from her husband to her doctor to her gal pals no one had just let her get it out that this sucked and I wish I wasn’t dealing with it. And we could have been guilty of the same thing if we’d been busy – we’d have shooed her out the door and even gotten pissy if sh’ed been upset or demanding about.

I’ve had customers get so shitty and livid because I’m not helping them when what I’m doing is trying to tell them that I can’t help them. At the same time I’ve gotten absolutely dug in trying to help people with insanely idiotic laughing-over-coffee-with-my-coworkers bullshit because I had no other priority at the time.

When I look back at any customer-interaction that went badly I can see a moment when they wanted to feel heard and I wanted to rush through the process because I’m busy, I know what all the steps are, let’s just get through this.

And when I look back at a great customer interaction, like a day-highlight home run, there’s always a moment when I was like k, c’mon, hurry up – no, there’s no where else I need to be, there’s nowhere else I can possibly be, so just be here, just listen – don’t wait just listen. Those end up being the people who email head office saying Allister-at-Westhills is just great, love him so much.

Actually, I was writing out my list of things to discuss with each Saturday employee and I put my own name down as well and wrote slowing down, resetting with each person, not rushing.

To bring this back to the title of the post, if not the spirit, it’s also okay not to be the priority. I know you’re the customer and you’re a middle-class white person who’s never been treated as off-center from the center of the universe – or always able to force yourself into being treated as the center of the universe – but man, I get one-a-week characters who come in the door with an about-me attitude like I’m supposed to have been expecting them; like this is their house and whoever is here is obviously a butler.

And you can guess what those people end up writing to head office about me.

There’s no way to bring this post back to the intent it was started with… so… [Sarah-Lynn gif]

Our Shoe Selection At The Store

Disclaimer again that this is going be a bit of a shoe-nerd post, I’m not going to take the time to explain each shoe and what each name means and blah blah blah. There will be context ques for people without this stupid hobsession.

So, shoes in the store:

From New Balance we carry the 840, 860, 880 and 1080 in the current generation and whatever’s left over from the old generations. There are, like, 6 shoes on each wall that are just the NB logo and then some numbers which are all, basically, variations on the same thing in the crowded middle of the shoe spectrum.

And in all the other brands it’s much the same. We carrying the center of the bell curve – which makes sense from a retail POV I know – but our stock space isn’t infinite.

It’s like filling your tiny bookstore with Clancy, and Grisham, and other airport novels at the expense of having any other sections. You fight for the biggest and most fought for piece of the pie for the most mundane of people and serve literally no one else.

It’s like offering someone a drink and having five different colas and barely a juice or a water to be found. So… America. Zing.

People who want a Coke will settle for a pepsi. You’re not serving two markets by offering coke and pepsi – you’re serving one market twice. Offer a soda, a water, a juice, and a beer and now you’re talking.

At the store I’m forced to apologetically turn away so many people with interesting and specific wants and needs, people I like and agree with.

I think it’s why every city has one thriving indie running store but not two (except Boulder of course). There is a market for people who really, really love running and love shoes and collect and experiment and want to talk about it all day but it’s a market you can’t split. You ration the water equally and dehydrate both plants.

But I’ve been trying to get some hardcore shoes into the store since, well, since the minute I got access to the computer. I did what I could do talking to other stores directly to bolster my supplies – like, I transferred-in some Altras under my name as a customer and they got transferred out again the next week for, presumably, a real customer at another location.

And the chain-of-command at The Running Room is fucked. Everyone I work with has had an email interaction with the higher-ups that’s been so brutally stupid and condescending and unhelpful and rude. The story is always the same: Customers want something, I talk to my area manager, he tells me to talk to any of these five people at headquarters, I email them one or two at a time and they all dismissively tell me not to talk to them and CC my area manager. As if to say, why is one of your peons talking to me. And nothing gets done. Nothing good happens for anybody.

My boss, who is a cool guy and wants things to work out for customers and employees alike, told me a story of a manager who put her own shoes on the store wall with a sign saying available for order so she could at least talk about them to people who came in for serious trail shoes.

Speaking of trail shoes, man our selection sucks. When someone comes in asking about them we just say man, sorry, our selection sucks. Our location is basically phasing them out. And it’s a clear story of what I’m talking about actually. We stock a few lame varieties and never restocked the common sizes. Therefore we don’t sell many. Therefore the higher ups think it isn’t worth stocking us with common sizes of the good shit. Have no [blank] to sell? Then your sales numbers for [blank] will be low, therefore you don’t have the sales numbers to justify stocking you with good [blank].

And customers who come in, ask a question, and leave without buying anything don’t show up in any system seen by the higher ups. But man are our sales high in the bloated middle of the spectrum so keep sending them those, boys. Sunglasses are a good example of this: We have Goodrs on display in a dozen colours, most of which we have 2, 3, or 0, but whenever we sell one we tend to get restocked with 3 so we’re overflowing with one or two specific colours.

Like I said, what’s really weird about it though is that they’re dicks about it. Like, if a Private gets in touch with a General (clearly I have no idea of other military ranks that would make a touch more sense but… follow) and says we have no bullets on the front fucking line the General should be like  oh shit, let me get you those because we have the same goal of winning the fucking war but instead it’s the Boer War and the higher ups are all like, drinking tea and reminding us to be courageous for Britain. Or, in the case of the one higher up who pops by the store, saying times are tough everywhere because of yada yada my three houses and my mustang. My mustang that’s never been rained on. What leadership.

Hmm, so it turned out this had nothing to do with shoes and all about just venting about work. Perhaps it’s all from an urge to apologize and rationalize to the people who leave the store unsatisfied everyday, with my face and my voice as the instrument of that dissatisfaction. And for those people I will keep working, keep trying, maybe those early martyrs will never come back and haunt me forever but for the heroes who come in their wake, by god, I will get them their shoes.

And the sunscreen you like. Or at least if I see it elsewhere in the world I’ll let you know. Probably London Drugs.