Going out shopping barefoot can sometimes be a bit of a crap shoot. If you are going to a new place, you never really know what to expect. But that can also be true of places that you shop at regularly, since there might be a pelmatophobe on duty that day who causes trouble.
But other times it can be gratifying when store employees simply express interest.
I thought I’d write about two such experiences from yesterday.
I’ve written before how outdoor-type people really get the whole barefooting thing. Whenever I’m on barefoot hikes (especially the organized hikes, where we all have a chance to talk), they all understand the benefits, the immersion, and the spirituality of hiking barefoot. And I tell them (sorry, you’ve all heard this before):
We go out into the woods to see the sights, hear the sounds, and smell the smells, and then we turn off our sense of touch. Well, I don’t turn off my sense of touch.
And they all get it.
With those sorts of people, I don’t even need to be in the woods.
Yesterday I went to The Outdoor Source, one of the premier stores in the Columbus area for outdoor gear. (They’re a bit of a distance from my house, so I used to get a fair bit of stuff from Gander Mountain, which was nearer. However, Gander Mountain just converted that store to a pure gun store—why?—so now it’s worth the longer trip even if I’m not going for specialty equipment.)
I’ve never had barefoot trouble at The Outdoor Source; they are the place I got my rappelling gear. The thing is, all of the people employed there are clearly outdoors types; knowledgeable outdoors types.
Yesterday, as I entered, the guy brightly asked, “Looking for shoes?” I think he noticed I was barefoot.
Actually, I was mainly looking for Camelbak pieces, which he happily led me to. Of course, in that sort of place, I ended up getting 4 times as much extra stuff. But that’s all to the good.
As I was checking out, he also asked, “How long have you been going barefoot?” He was interested, not challenging. So we talked a bit about it, and mentioned Cody Lundin of Dual Survival. And he mentioned how toe-shoes had helped his plantar fasciitis.
This is what a good shopping experience is supposed to be like.
The other location I went to was a Menards — Dedicated to Service & Quality™. (Yes, that’s what it says on their web page, complete with the trademark symbol.) Menards is a how-to center, and I’ve been in them in Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and always found that slogan to be absolutely true. (Of course, as I said, one pelmatophobe could challenge that conclusion.)
Just to compare, Home Depot has a shoes-required sign. I’ve had the occasional problem at Lowe’s (but always favorably resolved). But so far Menards has been great.
This time I was looking for a piece of lumbar, and I was having trouble finding the sizes I wanted. So I asked, and the employee I asked showed me that it was on a raised level (which I should have remembered from previous visits). So he went up the stairs.
And I followed him.
Those are actually easy enough to walk on barefoot. Yes, I felt it, but as long as I didn’t scrape my soles along them, they were just fine.
The employee didn’t give me any trouble. While I was up there, though, he was curious, “Doesn’t that hurt?” So I told him how I could feel it, but otherwise my soles could handle it.
And he was okay with that. (I had a previous similar experience with the stairs at a Wisconsin Menards, and again the employee trusted me.)
And it wasn’t just him. As I was checking out, there was some trouble with the pricing on the board, so I was there a while with the cashier and the management that came to help. I could see they’d seen my feet, but they were totally interested in helping. What a concept!
These are two business well-worth my continued patronage.
And it is too bad that other businesses just don’t get it (or my money).