The dreaded back to school shoe buying session. With two kids. Who don’t want to go shoe shopping.
Always a winner.
In stores up and down the land, parents gather together like penguins amidst the chatter and screeching of bored kids, giving each other the ‘you too?’ sympathetic raised eyes.
You know the scene don’t you? That pressure to get it right when you’re spending, quite frankly, a LOT of money.
Well, I did ours at Brantano this week.
I know nothing about the store as there isn’t one close to us so I had no idea of the sorts of shoes they stock or whether they have qualified fitters there or whether they were braced to pacify eye-rolling kids who want to check out the One Direction bags instead of pick out a booooooring pair of school shoes.
So when Brantano contacted me to see if I would give one of their stores a whirl and review the service I confess I was apprehensive.
We normally visit the independent store in town and jostle our way to the kids section where we wait for what seems like FOREVER for our ticket number to be called.
When we arrive at Brantano at The Fort Shopping Centre just off the M6 in Birmingham, the store is nothing like we usually visit. There are no fancy displays or ticket dispensers. The store is a multi-coloured sea of shoe boxes divided into sections based on size.
And there are also a sea of staff waiting to help, measure, fit, find. Hence no need for the tickets I guess.
It looks a bit daunting; there are shoes everywhere!
Store manager Bal takes both of my kids in hand and sorts them out.
11-year-old Dan has to have shoes with laces this year. He’s not happy about that AT ALL. He usually wears trainer/shoe crosses for maximum football in the playground flexibility. On top of that he’s now in a size 6 which means he’s on that verge between boys and mens shoes. And he doesn’t like “grown-up men’s shoes”.
Nearly nine-year old Mia will want whatever is the most unsuitable shoe for school. She wants high heels or thin soles or some shoe with zips all over them.
Bal has them both sorted within half an hour. They’re both happy. She has been very, very thorough. I am delighted. Half an hour!
Of course, as a blogger I suspect I’m being given special treatment so I look around at the other parents in the store doing the back to school thing.
And they too seem to be getting the same thorough once over.
So we leave with a pair of shoes each that both children love and I’ve only broken into a very, very mild sweat from the pressure of getting it right.