31 July, 2008

Your feets too big or The Long Foot

I'm thinking of taking up running. If you know me don't laugh. The thing is I could walk everywhere in London and cycle a bit too, but here I just sit about and drive. I don't want to join a gym, I can't swim well enough to call that exercise and the pool is at least 7 miles away, but I could run in the lane near my house, and along the river bank.

First things first. Shoes. Shoes for me have always been a problem. Ever since I can remember. I used to have a shoe fetish when I was tiny - couldn't drag me past a shop. Sadly I have never been able to indulge this fetish as by the time I was 14 I was a size 9. That's a 43 to those of you on the continent and an 11 in the States. In other words, we're in enormous, outsize, "no we only go up to a 7 or possibly an 8" territory. I gave up on shoe shops long ago and I am guessing that so have most other women with colossal pedal extremities as Fats Waller has it, as large sizes seem less rather than more available on the high street these days.

Thank heavens for the web then. Well it's fine if you're looking for a slinky shoe for nightclubbing, a sensible boot or even/especially a kinky boot for whatever. I discovered that searching for the terms " large sizes shoes ladies" returns some interesting sites aimed at people with a Y chromosome.

I digress. Sports shoe suppliers online haven't quite worked out the long tail yet. It isn't that the sports shoe manufacturers don't make a women's running shoe in a UK size 9. The online suppliers just don't stock them. So having worked out that the shoes did exist somewhere and could be ordered for me (don't ask how long that took), I entered into an email correspondence with two customer services people at one of the many websites available and over 4 weeks later I still have no shoes, though I'm hopeful there will be some in stock soon. At one point, they suggested I visit one of their shops so they could see me run (I said don't laugh!) and judge what type of shoe I should have. I was a little testy when I pointed out that the nearest shop was over an hour and a half away and wouldn't have anything in my size anyway so how could they judge what kind of shoe I needed. What were they going to do? Order in several different pairs especially for my visit?

Now I am sure a gait test or whatever it's called is a great idea. But unless you stock the shoes, you can't do it. So I head to the net, where you also don't stock the shoes and then get told I can't have any until I do this test which I can't do because you don't stock the bloody shoes which is why I contacted a website in the first place. The thing is that if I had average feet I'd have clicked buy now and no human would have got involved in the first place. If the gait test is so bloody important then don't sell your precious shoes on the net.

Where does the long tail come in? Well if the shoe shops had any sense they would put all available sizes down on their website, not just the obvious ones for average feet. They don't need to stock them all, they just need to make them available for purchase. I'm a reasonable person and I've spent nearly 30 years regularly faffing about trying to find shoes to fit my long slim feet so if the website said it could get me shoes but they take a bit longer, I won't mind. Some customer services bod wouldn't have spent time dealing with an increasingly testy potential customer. And you never know, maybe they'd find there are more of us "fossils" around than they think, and sell more shoes.

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