So I had a little experiment done recently.
I had someone I trust head on over to a big-box shoe store to buy a pair of shoes.
I asked them to report back to me what the experience was like.
And what they reported back to me was something I wanted to share with you.
But before I share it…
Just be aware that it’s a little long, but definitely worth the read.
And it’s kind of funny.
So here it is.
My Big-Box Shoe Store Experience
“The first thing I noticed was the number of shoes they had on display.
There were a lot to choose from.
But getting any help from an employee was like trying to find a gas station when your car is running on fumes. They’re nowhere to be found.
Once you track down an employee, they just ask what shoe you are interested in and what size.
Then they scan the shoe and tell you if it’s in stock.
If it’s not in stock, they don’t make any other recommendations. They just stare at you and wait for you to say something.
And that’s it.
Luckily, they had my size (or what I thought would fit) in stock.
Then the employee turned and walked away without saying anything else.
So there I was, just standing there with no idea what was going on.
Five minutes go by, then ten minutes.
And all of a sudden, another employee appeared through these doors, carrying a stack of about 10 shoe boxes.
He was even pulling a wagon with more boxes in it.
What happened next was really interesting.
It was like you were in a shark tank and someone dropped food into it.
People from all corners of the shoe department swarmed this employee with a vengeance.
His face was priceless.
It was a mix of annoyance and a mix of, “Holy hell, back up before I start throwing shoes at you.”
It was actually funny.
What wasn’t funny was that he had the job of trying to figure out which one of those shoe boxes went to which person.
While I was waiting for him to find my shoes, I realized how this store operates.
You find your shoe, you tell an employee what shoe and size you want to try on, and they send a message to another employee in the stock room to bring that shoe out.
And they wait in the stock room until they get a bunch of shoe requests. That way, they can make one trip instead of multiple.
This means it takes quite a while for anyone who is waiting to try on the shoes.
And the people around me were getting frustrated. Especially the ones with kids.
So once this employee appeared through the door, people jumped on him.
Do you know what it was like?
It was like when you’re on a plane and it taxis up to the gate and the captain turns off the seat belt sign.
Everyone gets out of their seat, but then they stand in the aisle for 10 minutes, go nowhere, and get annoyed.
Then, once the line starts moving, it’s a mad dash to get your carry-on luggage out of the overhead bin so you don’t anger the people behind you even more.
Anyway, back to the report.
Once I got the shoe, I tried it on and walked around a bit.
Of course, the shoe didn’t fit.
So what did I have to do?
I had to wait 7 minutes until I saw another employee.
When I did, I started to approach him.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a bunch of other people doing the same.
As I walked faster to get to the employee, they did the same.
That’s where my race-walking powers kicked in.
I felt like I had to get there first.
Unfortunately, we all arrived at the same time and then had to wait until he got to each one of us.
At no time did he ask how he could help us. It was just, “What shoe and size are you looking for?
If you had questions about the shoe as I did, he would simply look down at his handheld device and look for the answer.
Which he didn’t have unless it was what was in stock.
Luckily for me, they had the same shoe in a different color (that I liked) in the next size up.
So I told him to bring that one out.
And of course, the waiting cycle repeated itself until my happy face emerged from the stock room.
After fighting off the soccer moms and the angry teenagers, I was finally able to get the shoes.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that there were so many people that I had to walk to a completely different section of the shoe department just to find space to try the shoes on.
As I got them on, I realized they fit better.
But I still had questions about other shoes that were similar and how those would be.
Although, after dealing with all of this, I just wanted to get my shoes on and get out of there.
Unfortunately, there were two small issues
One was that I still had the first pair of shoes I tried on.
I didn’t know what to do with them.
There was no one around, and I didn’t know if I should just leave them where they were or not.
So I had to wait again.
The second issue was that the checkout wasn’t in the shoe department.
I didn’t know if I paid someone in the shoe department or had to walk to the other end of the store to pay.
Eventually, the mythical employee graced me with his presence, and I handed him the box of shoes that didn’t fit, and he told me where to pay.
So in the end, that was my experience.
It is something I don’t ever want to do again.
At no time was there any significant help, nor did I feel like I was even cared for.
But it did make me realize a few things.
- This store didn’t have (or couldn’t find) enough employees.
- These employees were just order takers.
- Even if employees could help, they had zero knowledge about the shoes, let alone answer in-depth questions.
- The general population really needs help being educated about shoes and what options are right for them.
- If you have even the slightest foot issue, NEVER, EVER go to a store like this.
- People think this is a normal shoe-buying experience in this type of store. They are willing to wait, get no help, and take whatever they’re given. Even if it’s wrong for them.
- It made me appreciate so much more what you offer and do for people.
So to wrap all this up, I won’t be getting shoes from a store like this again.
The experience was almost worse than going to the DMV.
Although it would be interesting if the DMV sold shoes. It would probably be the same experience as the big-box store.
Anyway, I hope this was helpful for you.”
So there you have it.
That was quite a report, huh?
I did laugh when he called the one employee Mr. Happy Face.
The sad truth is that this is not an uncommon experience. Especially on busy days.
But there is one thing I can promise you if you visit here:
I will help you, I will answer any questions you have, and I will work with you to find the perfect solution.
And if that sounds even slightly better than going through the big-box shoe store experience…