Friday, March 5, 2010

STOKED!


I just got published! The EBRC newsletter has been uploaded to the website and is ready for everyone to check it out. I'm pretty proud of my little baby. This was my concept and I turned it into a reality. It wouldn't have been anything special if it weren't for the people who supported me and contributed content (thank you Jessica and Emily).



Please check it out here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brick and Mortar vs. Online for Shoe Buying

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom.com

I have been looking for some work shoes for the past six months and just haven't found anything that was worth the price. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted and could never find it. What was more frustrating was in the time that I was looking to just replace my work shoes, I came to realize I really needed to get a pair of commuter shoes and a pair of casual shoes.

I commute to work and end up doing a fair amount of walking. I learned early on that wearing my work shoes on the half mile walk home nearly killed my feet. I tried flip flops, but got creeped out walking through the really dirty city streets without more protection. I started wearing my work flats, but ended up totally trashing them because I ended up wearing them everyday. Currently I've been sporting, my casual shoes, but they've gotten worn down and I've gotten tired of them. Plus, they look funny with my work clothes. My critera were they needed to be comfortable, well-made, leather (because of occasional rainy commutes), cute, and reasonably priced.

Secondly, I wanted a pair of shoes to replace said casual shoes. I wanted them to be as versitile as possible. I needed something I can wear running errands and hanging out with friends. Something comfortable, stylish, cute, versitile, and reasonably priced.

Thirdly, I wanted a pair of shoes to wear at work. I've pretty much just have one and a half pairs :) One pair is pretty comfortable, black wedges, that go with just about everything. The half-pair is considered "half" because cute as they are they are uncomfortable for wearing for more than just a few hours. Great for church, but not for work. Plus, they've stretched quite a bit and just don't stay on my feetsies very well anymore, which is super annoying. I just wanted something cute, preferably a flat, that was comfortable, versitle, and reasonably priced.

In my search for my shoes I went all over: Ross (I don't know why I try, a needle in a haystack-IF you're lucky), Macy's, DSW, macys.com, shoebuy.com, piperlime.com, amazon.com, zappos.com, Clarks, and all sorts of mall stores. I tried the brick and mortar stores first, hoping to find something there, and when that didn't work and I just didn't have time to continue driving around all over, I found that online stores were pretty convenient. Problem was I found myself spending too much time going through the online stores comparing styles and reviews and still not finding the right shoe at the right price. I found a few good options, but nothing I was gaga over, nothing that fit all the criteria perfectly.

Finally, I decided on some Keen's for commuting. The Erin Ballerina, to be exact. The name just was the tipping point. It was cute enough, casual, fun, leather. Sure, it's a bit chunky, but I think it's still fun. I imagine myself to be an outdoorsy kind of person, and I thought this style reflected that part of my personality. I found a killer deal on this $90 shoe at shoebuy.com, I ended up getting a discount from their already discounted price. I typically only purchase shoes online from places with free shipping and returns, which is what attracted me to shoebuy.com in the first place. The shoes arrived about 5 days after I ordered them and after I put them on I was disappointed. The sizing was off a bit, too wide, even though it was the right length. They looked even chunkier on my foot than the picture, and just was not flattering. All I could hear in my head was Stacy and Clinton talking about shoes that look like potatoes. Sadly, I thought, I needed to return them.

After that disappointment, I was more committed than ever to finally find a shoe once and for all. I decided to go shoe shopping that Saturday in San Francisco with a determination not to leave until I had something to show for my time. Three hours later, and MANY stores later (I had only planned on going to DSW and Macy's) I ended up with three pairs of shoes. A pair of black flats from Macys, and a pair of Converse and Vans from Nordstrom.

My experience at Macy's was mixed. It was a madhouse. Macy's has a sale just about every other day, yet still the place was packed. If you've every been to Macy's at Union Square you know how huge the women's shoe department is. After doing about two laps around the floor I decided on four pairs of flats to try on. I waited around for a saleswomen to get me the sizes I needed. She was amazing. Considering how many customers she was helping I was truly impressed. She remembered the exact sizes in the different shoes and didn't forget about me. Three of the shoes were available in my size, and only one fit. I looked at the price and figured it was the best I was going to find at that price (plus I had some credit on a store gift card I wanted to use up). I was done looking for the perfect flat. This guy was patent leather (not my ideal choice), but it had a cute buckel, and most importantly it fit. Considering all the flats I tried on that were way too wide and not as cute once I put on my foot, this one was a star. I was a little bummed that I only had one pair after that first hour, especially since it wasn't really the pair I needed.

So, off I went to DSW. I had scouted it out earlier in the week. I was surprised to find they had the Erin Ballerina there for the same price I paid online. I was pretty impressed. After trying on several pairs of shoes, nothing really stood out. I felt like as much as I wanted a pair of shoes, I wasn't going to pay $50 for something I didn't at least feel good in. I mean, isn't that the point - you want to feel like you look good, so then you feel good all around, right?

Lucky for me Westfield mall was right there. I started at Nordstrom (one of my favorite stores, probably because I used to work there, and my mom and sisters worked there when I was growing up). Some contenders, but nothing amazing. So, I went to most of the stores that I thought gave me the best chance at finding a commuter shoe and a casual shoe. I was tired and I was bummed. I found a pair of Clarks I liked okay, but they certainly didn't scream cool or fashionable, plus they were $110. Ouch. As I was walking around feeling desperate I started rationalizing. "If I get the Converse and the Clarks, then average that with the $20 out of pocket I spent on the flats, maybe that's not so bad for three pairs of shoes." Yes, I was that desperate. So, back I went to Nordstrom to get the Converse. While I was there looking around, next to the Converse were those old school slip on Vans. I had Vans when I was in elementary school. Now, they aren't on par with say the quality of Clarks, but they were kinda cute, they slipped on, and they were kinda comfy, and they were definitely cheaper than Clarks. Actually, I could get a few Vans for the price of one pair of Clarks. At Nordstrom the sales guy was super nice and helpful. I explained that I wanted to try out the Converse and the Vans and that I was not too sure on my size in those shoes. He brought out lots of boxes and let me do my thing without hovering, which I really appreciated. I was trying on a pair of the Converse and thought, gee I should try on the next size down to see if those are a better fit, just in case. I looked through the boxes and surprise, there was the next size down! After himming and hawing on sizes and styles (one foot is a half-size different from the other - is a bit too small or a bit too big better?) I ended up purchasing a pair of grey Converse and black Vans.

The moral of this long story? Despite the "convenience" of shopping online with the immense variety and often better deal, in the end I'd rather have an experience like I did at a brick and mortar store like Nordstrom where I could sit down and try the different sizes on at the same time and compare them side-by-side to make sure I ended up with something I felt good about. The sales associate was exactly what I needed: helpful, proactive, and not a hoverer. I suppose I could have ordered several sizes online and then just returned the ones that didn't fit, but that's a bit of a hassle logistically and financially, especially when returns can take several cycles to show on the credit card statement. When it comes down to it, I'm willing to spend more money for the experience and "convenience" of a brick and mortar store.