A customer experience piece. An article about a visit to a store and the hard decision to walk away from shoes, with a grand-daughters attempt at a reunion.
In June 2019, my family and I drove to Midland to attend the Buttertart festival. King Street lined itself with vendors and the buzzing excitement of finding tasty tarts, pies, and shopping deals. Retail storefronts piled with customers who searched for more than something to satisfy their sweet tooth. The shoe deals advertised at Shoes to Boot were enough to satisfy the cravings and appeal to the inner shoe lover that is my mom, aunt, and grandmother.
“Try them on, it doesn’t hurt.” Mom called to my Nonna, who held a red polka-dotted heel in her hand like a prize.
“It’s beautiful,” Nonna’s broken English extended the vowels of her excitement. She circled the sandal in her hands and examined the details of the heel. “Look at the finish,” a thumb ran over the brown stained outsole.
“Ma, if you like it just try it on.” Zia rolled her eyes, but inspected a flat shoe of her own find.
“Just ask for a 36,” Mom looked around, craning her head to see over the crowd. “Want me to get someone?”
“No, no, it’s okay.” Nonna slid her foot into the sample shoe. Her beige stocking covered toes peeped from the ends of the red polka dot sandal. When her foot nudged enough forward, she leans on an ankle to show us the style. The black bow on full display. “Beeea-u-tiful.” She exclaimed.
“They’re cute,” Zia confirmed.
“I don’t need them,” Nonna shook her head and read the price at the bottom. A shaking finger trailed over the sales tag. She never wanted to spend her money. Her treat to herself were the leftover cookies she carried in a napkin in her purse.
“If you want them, get them. When are you coming back?” Mom tried her best to convince my Nonna, but Nonna still refused. She left the store carrying a bag of only buttertarts, Mom and Zia in tow with their new shoe boxes.
I haven’t seen Nonna in weeks and I know the separation at Easter made her sad. Our visits are scattered, a walk-by greeting from the edge of her patio while I shiver and she stands in the doorway trying to convince me to come inside. She leaves the door open for a moment then returns with a cloth covered pot. Broth she made for soup. She always transforms her groceries into meals for us to bring home. Mom shakes her head but accepts the food, knowing there’s no use in trying to fight her on it.
Mother’s Day is next Sunday and I don’t want to enter the store for flowers. I browse online for delivery services, trying to think of something Nonna wouldn’t refuse. No matter what I buy her, for any occasion, she tells me she doesn’t need it.
I sigh and search my way through the internet, typing in Mother’s Day Gifts for Grandma. Nothing comes up, and when I decide to forfeit the hunt, I turn to Facebook. An ad for Rieker shoes shows up on my newsfeed scroll. I click the link to browse the collection, feeding the shoe lover gene I inherited. Then, by only chance, I recognize a black spotted sandal.
This has to come in red. This has to be the company.
Rieker Canada was the brand we found in the retailer shop, out of town, almost a year ago. I scroll and click the sandal tab, giving up to search for the shoe style number instead.
There it is. The shoe that Nonna loved, but never treated herself to.
With a size chart check and free shipping, I bought the shoes that would suit her better than flowers. The smile she wore when she exclaimed, “they’re comfortable, it’s like I’m not wearing shoes!” was enough to remind me that Nonna may not have needed new shoes, but she wanted them. I extend her thank you to the Rieker team and share in her praise.
And to those red polka-dotted shoes, I knew I’d see you again.
Zia’s shoe finds: