March 26th, 2006

PNW Raven

Looking for shoe store recommendations

<disclaimer>I've already checked the memories and didn't find what I was looking for.</disclaimer>

I'm looking for some recommendations on a shoe store or two to check out.

What I am looking for:
• a largish store with an exceptional variety of brands and options
• a very knowledgeable staff
• a place where comfort and durability are held in great regard

What I am not looking for:
• any particular brand
• any particular niche
• a place where fashion or trendiness is more important than anything else

Essentially I want to find a store where I can walk in, describe to a person what it is that I am looking for, and then have them show me a decent variety of options. I would prefer a store where customer service is valued to such an extent that employees will—based on my needs—suggest things that they may not carry if they think they will be to my benefit.

Hopefully this isn't something which will be impossible to find. Thanks.



Updated
I posted a few days ago about looking for sandals and got a lot of suggestions that I visit Nordstrom. I'd like to thank all of you who responded and I visited that store today.

I have to say that I was sorely disappointed. The selection was no better than is typically found at any old department store, and the customer service was nonexistent. We were there in the men's shoe department for nearly ten minutes and no one came up and offered to help. That, plus not seeing anything I liked the look of led us out of there.

While downtown we also tried the Walking Company, as well as peeking our heads in to the two malls to see of they had anything promising looking. While we were immediately offered service at the Walking Company I was not terribly impressed. The person who was helping us did not strike me as being terribly knowledgeable, nor do I think he would have ever offered a solution that was not based on their own stock.

I was disappointed and in very little mood to continue (I hate this kind of shopping), but there was one other place I wanted to try: the Shoe Advantage. I had come across their name while searching the web a few days ago and had gotten something of a vibe from them. So we drove up to the U District where their Seattle store is located and gave them a try. The store was small and the selection limited, but the girl working there knew her stuff and was able to find me a shoe that I liked and that she thought would meet me needs. And then when they didn't have the size and colour I wanted in stock she ordered them for me and is having them shipped to our apartment at no additional charge.

While talking to her I mentioned that I was also wishing I could wear sandals, but that I had mostly given up on looking for ones I could wear (I have custom orthotics). She immediately mentioned three brands that would probably work for me and even looked them up for me online and showed them to me. That's exactly the sort of thing that defines good customer service in my book—courtesy, knowledge and a willingness to suggest alternatives that don't make money for the store. So if you are in the market for a good pair of shoes and you want the kind of service that is worthwhile then I suggest visiting the Shoe Advantage and asking for Mica Harris.

Clothing Shopping Help

While gwynn_aaron already posted my question on shoes, a friend of mine is looking for clothing. Her requirements:
* petites
* none too expensive (she's not working)
* did I mention petites
* primarily interview clothes, but for what hasn't yet been defined
* absolutely has to be for petites
* I'm coming too, so I'd like to avoid chain stores - we all know how to find those
* "but it has to be petites"
* we don't really have location requirements, making a day of it sounds fun, but we'll be coming from the 90/405, and may be heading down to South Center, so way north, north Seattle would be less convenient, but not undoable.

(Yes, I've checked the memories - rather, I've read the community regular for the past six months, and I checked my brain. I know there have been posts about clothing, but they weren't quite what we were looking for, and didn't have the "did I mention, she needs petites" urgency to them. (I think she's had A LOT of bad luck finding stuff in her size. She is just under 5'.) And checking Google... I don't want to sort through phone book type listings for 10 days, I want recommendations from humans with brains.)

So helpful, I'm trying again...

The shopping for petites stuff went so well, I'm asking for help on behalf of my friend again:
shoes in size 5 1/2 wide.
Apparently, Nordstrom does *not* carry this particular combination any more. :-( Any other funky-footed friendlies out there with some good advice? (Ok, in this case "buy online" is not such good advice. She's a try-before-buy type, *especially* with shoes. So, it might be advice, but she won't take it.)
TIA!

edit: I should add that she's looking for dressier shoes - for instance, for a job interview, not a night on the town, or an afternoon of jogging. :-)