comments 2

If they were any smaller, I’d topple over

I have big feet – 14s, DD width. They work well and most of the time they keep me upright. I’ve always had trouble buying shoes in retail stores though. There seems to be a consensus among shoe retailers that folks with big pods are really better off barefoot – like Sasquatch, Yeti, Bigfoot and so on.

As a result, I do most of my shoe shopping online. Usually somebody posts a review as to how well a particular pair of shoes fits – do they fit as expected or half size bigger or half size smaller or whatever. I’ve yet to receive a pair that doesn’t fit me well.

I wanted to buy a new pair of hiking shoes in time for the beginning of my spring nature walks. Silly me, I decided to give a retail store one more chance. I looked online and found a pair that looked perfect – a brand I like, and the website suggested my local outlet had my size in stock. This was at an outfit called Sportchek. The nearest one is in a nearby mall. I don’t much like malls and in general I try to avoid them, but I figured I could go into the store, try on a pair of the hiking shoes I was after, and leave the store happy as a clam with my shoes in a bag.

It turned out that this Sportchek not only did not have the shoes I was looking at in size 14, they didn’t have any hiking shoes in size 14. In fact they also did not have even a single pair of sneakers in my size either. I asked the question, “so what do you folks at Sportchek think us big-footed souls should do for shoes?”. “Um, well, we could order a pair for you.” Hmmm. I could have ordered a pair from home and saved the trip. “Please tell your manager,” I said, as politely as I could muster, “had been able to buy my shoes here, I likely would keep coming back. I might even buy some other stuff here while I was in the store. Instead, the chances of me ever coming back here and buying anything are less than zero”. This was met with a blank stare. Well, what did I expect.

I went home and ordered the shoes online. It took two days for them to be delivered to my door. They fit fine. I understand how retail is struggling in the face of growing e-commerce, and I’d like to support my local retail outlets. I like dealing with humans, browsing actual items, not just pictures, and I like being able to try on my shoes in the store. Unfortunately though, I’ve given up. I continue to have poor in-store experiences and good online shopping experiences. I may never buy shoes or boots in a store again.


  1. I haven’t been to a Payless place in ages. I don’t recall scoring big sizes there in the past. I love the idea of Payless becoming a drag queen shoe hub though.

  2. I feel you. Since high school I’ve been a women’s US size 10 or with luck 9 and a half, double-wide. You asked for that size in a woman’s shoe in 1970 and the salesman would sniff and look down his nose as if you had DONE something to develop such freakishly large feet. These days, it’s considered more normal, not least because there are more overweight people, but also I think someone finally figured out that not all women were pre-Mao Chinese concubines who had been bound from birth.

    Nonetheless, it’s annoying that once you get up to size ten women’s, there are no more half sizes — as if someone with feet that big should be happy to have something that fits even approximately. And big athletic chains still seem to run out of large women’s shoes as soon as they ship. One pleasant exception is the ubiquitous Payless chain, where I go if I need a look-pretty shoe that will last a couple evenings. I noticed that local drag queens patronized the nearby locations, because they go up to size thirteen and a man who will be a glamorous woman in some club later than evening can find stuff. It’s the only place left that I can expect to be able to try things on.

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