A nightmare about selling women’s shoes awoke me this morning and I need to purge myself of the hoax I perpetuated in the ‘50s and 60s on gullible consumers. I was a women’s shoe dog for entry level retailer Edison Brothers Stores (Leeds, Bakers and Chandlers) in Spokane, Seattle, and Oakland.
Teen girls were a challenge with one asking to see “boss” shoes and I assured her that the boss’ size 11s would not be to her liking. Then I would get the prospect who plopped down in the chair and announced that she “was waiting for a party.” (The last party were had here was a bust.)
I hated myself and loathed the customers. I was fired from Chandlers in Seattle when I went home to Spokane for spring break during Easter, a prime sales time then for shoes. Particularly scary were wedding parties buying fabric shoes to be dyed to a fabric sample the ladies supplied. One always hoped the shoes would be a perfect match but you couldn’t rely on the artisan who did the dying and also doubled as the janitor.
At all these stores we were expected to sell “extras” like handbags and shoe polish which resulted in extra commission. I was particularly dysfunctional in littering the store with scores of shoes and the poor customer couldn’t make a choice. But then many customers viewed shoe shopping as a sport and had no intention of actually purchasing.
I graduated to a public relations job at Fisher Blend KOMO-TV (ABC) in 1962 so I kissed off shoe sales but returned to it in Oakland in 1964 when I was unemployed. My last shoe gig was in 1980 for a day or two as a “floater” at Sears in St. Paul which was really easy.
Now it’s all self-service at Kohl’s, DSW and Penneys. Maybe Nordstorms actually has sales help. Who cares.