Sunday, March 03, 2013

Shopping Local

Serendipity struck on Nassau Street the other day for an unlikely shopper who made an unpremeditated entry into Hulit's shoe store. It was rare to find this man shopping, rare for his feet to encounter shoes that fit, and even rarer for him to encounter a salesman who loves talking not only about shoes but also all things related.

Like chickens, which really don't have anything to do with shoes, but the topic came up, eliciting a testimonial by the salesman about a teacher in a West Windsor middle school who had gotten his 6th grade daughter hooked on science, in part by having his students help care for chickens and ducks in the school courtyard.  So inspiring is this teacher (and the chickens and ducks) that his students return in subsequent years to visit and help with the animals.

Getting back to shoes, the shopper and salesman discussed various theories of whether to land on the heel or the ball of the foot while running, and the roots of running back in the hunter/gatherer days, when the naked advantage of superior cooling allowed us to chase animals until they collapsed from heat exhaustion.

Flattering the shopper, but in an authentic way, the salesman agreed that hiking on nature trails is better for the body than walking on sidewalks, because the uneven terrain wakes up muscles that otherwise don't get engaged by surfaces where each step is the same. It ties in nicely with those exercises that require balance and therefore engage multiple muscles, in contrast to most exercise machines that work only one muscle group at a time.

Interspersed in all of this were details about the shoes--waterproof vs. better ventilation, the pros and cons of rounded heels, and heels slightly raised vs. even with the front.

Having found a surprisingly good fit between shoes and feet, price and budget, thoughts and conversation, the shopper emerged in an unaccustomed state of grace, hands full and feet happy, his metal steed parked a few steps away, ready for the short bike ride home.

Shopping local at its best.

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