Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some Friendly Footwear Advice

For the past three months, my general condition has been going downhill faster than a grease covered toboggan. My back, knees, hips, everything hurt to the point that getting back and forth to the truck was getting to be misery. I'm 42 years old and while I've worked my butt off, and kicking same, I don't need to be hobbling along like a 92 year old. For crying out loud, there were men twice my age with walkers outrunning me. Then I took a look at my shoes.

From 2001 to about 2006, I wore Knapp shoes almost exclusively. In fact I wouldn't wear another brand. They provided the best foot, leg and back support of anything out there. The only drawback was that they wore out after about six months to a year. However, I would buy two pairs and rotate them back and forth. As long as I didn't keep them over a year, the soles wore like iron. Much past that, they disintegrated. Then a sad thing happened. Knapp moved their production to China from Penn Yan, NY and their customer service suffered, not to mention their products did as well. I've worn an 11EEE since I was 12 and they shipped me something labelled that, but in reality was a size 9. After paying to return ship a pair of $120 shoes that didn't fit, I never went back. Problem was, I tried cheap shoes and some not so cheap shoes. Some did well and others like the last pair, horribly. This isn't to knock the shoes. I paid $40 for them about 3 months ago and for their purpose they work reasonably well. If your job is working in an office, walking to the water cooler or copier to your cubicle to the car these are more than fine.

The problem is I am not your typical working stiff (not that my job is any more important). I drive from job to job, walk through grass, pavement, crawl spaces through dirt and concrete. As an added bonus, I also spend upwards of 3 to 4 hours a day on my knees and my toes touch the concrete, dirt or whatever floor surface in front of the equipment. As a result, the uppers were trashed and because of my walking with equipment, climbing ladders, stairs, ships steps, etc, the linings were also jacked as well, even though the out soles showed almost no wear. With all of that, the out sole on the left shoe managed to start working loose at the toe. The heel support was also gone, making it almost better if I didn't wear shoes at all. Even the out sole on the upper was starting to peel away on the right shoe. These ones were jacked, and so was my frame from raising and lowering my feet thousands of times a day for three months. 

So what am I supposed to do? I can't wear work boots, as these can track dirt on the carpets in a customer's home (even with the carpet protectors). My employer also mandates black shoes for the job and they can't be tennis shoes. I can live with that. The guy signs my checks and the customer makes sure we're all taken care of. Rules are made to be followed, not broken. I went to a place at the Lansing Mall called Tradehome and they sell shoes, socks and other footwear accessories. They will up sell you and to me that's just fine, as this is what customer service is all about. The gentleman there got me several pairs of shoes to try on, including Nikes (I declined those) and three other pairs. One was a pair of dress shoes, one casual and the third , (even though they were 1 1/2 times expensive as the first two) were a pair of Keen Hybrid Briggs II in a full grain black. The moment I walked in these, my pain went away. They have a sole that covers the toe, and a light but sturdy construction. These are "city streets" shoes according to their website, but I have worn them before and they last a year easily before they start to fall apart. 

My advice is this: cheap shoes are not worth it. They don't last as long, nor will they be comfortable for more than a few weeks. This can have devastating consequences on your general health and well being, not to mention your mood. Department stores over the past 40 years have been cutting back their help and expertise in every department. This is so much so that any rank and file person can run any department. In theory, this should at least save money. However, the prices on shoes have gone up and their product quality is questionable. They don't need to stock the best as though their reputation depended on it, because even if they lose customers, the other departments will take up the slack. 

Go to a shoe store and buy from a shoes store that has customer service. Yes, they will up sell you. This is their job and you will enjoy your experience a lot more as this up selling is also making you aware of what's out there. If i can buy a product that will help me out, or one that will work better, I'm all for it. I don't get paid to endorse any products or providers. With this in mind, I recommend Tradehome for all your footwear needs and by all means, give Keen a look and your business, you will thank you. Maranatha! 

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