Cadillac Mountain Sports, Ellesworth, ME.
I’d found two athletic shirts in technical fabric for about $20 each, and was postponing the moment I had to checkout, so I could enjoy the pre-purchase, post-try-on high of knowing you’ve snagged a good deal. My eye fell on a red dress and I headed toward it to finger the fabric.
“I’m admiring your shoes,” a saleswoman said. “They are unusual. Where did you get them?”
“Actually, I got them in Freeport at that shoe store called J.L. Coombs,” I said. I had no idea how well known the Freeport shoe store was. I said it like it was a secret code word, and if she was a member of the club, she would recognize it. She didn't. Instead, she said something even better. She articulated my exact thoughts on shoes, the exact reason for this blog.
“I’m always looking for stylish shoes that are comfortable,” she said. “There aren’t that many out there.”
She sounded so authoritative, so I checked out her nameplate. It said something ambiguous like “Store Merchandise Specialist.”
“Are you a buyer?” I asked.
“No, I just work here,” she said.
Too bad. If she was a buyer, I’d ask her to start stocking some Wolkys. Sports stores are the perfect place to find comfortable, stylish walking shoes. Wolkys would fit nicely into the “Lifestyle” shoe section, next to the “Running,” “Walking,” and “Cross-trainer” sections. But no matter how many sports stores I check, I rarely see anything besides sneakers.
The REI store in the Fenway area of Boston is a little better than other local sports stores in terms of shoes, and sometimes has Eccos, one of my favorite brands. The last time I stopped in, I tried on some Chacos (ZX/2 Vibram Unaweep soles) because those multi red double straps were cool looking. The gridded sole feels awesome on the bottom of your foot, but the straps felt like they were trying to pull my toes off. And the sole was kinda big for my foot.
Below are a few other styles at REI, although none tempted me to seek out a salesperson. Perhaps Marshalls has spoiled me. Nothing easier than trying on a pair right off the display. In order: another Chaco style, a Clarks Privo, an Ahnu, and a Jambu.
If a salesperson had appeared at the perfect moment, I would have tried on the ballet-style Ahnu (below) and am now curious about the brand. Zappos says the name is "derived from Celtic mythology, from the goddess of balance and well-being." And Jambu's (bottom) are inspired by the rainforest, have a vegan collection, and used to be J-41's. I will be keeping on eye out for both Ahnu and Jambu on my travels!