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.