Mansplaining and Running Shoes

Not too long ago I walked into a local branch of a national running shoe store chain to try on some shoes. I HATE going to this place based on past-experience, but I had an in-store coupon in conjunction with my Active Advantage account, so I had $85 off the retail prices of shoes if I bought them at this specific chain.

I walked in to the store closest to my house and a nice-enough gentleman greets me at the door. After the typical “Hi, How are you?” discussion I listed three specific shoe models I wanted to try on (all size 12), all which provide extra motion-control/stability. I had a list, I knew what I wanted to try out, and after a few thousand miles of running, I am pretty confident I know what to look for.

What I did not expect was what happened next. While I was waiting for the first gentleman to return, a second guy, younger and a bit more…eager, came up to ask if he could provide any assistance. Now I could have resisted at this point, but he start the whole sales pitch. “Hey get on this treadmill” and “Hey, let’s check out your gait.” I admit I was a little curious, so I reluctantly agreed.

This was amistake.

What happened for the next 20+ minutes I can only describe as irritating if not painful. To start with, this person did not know that a 50K was longer than a marathon so already I am questioning his expertise. He gets me on a treadmill, and then reads the results off the screen as if he is imparting wisdom on me. He assessed my gait as being a severe forefoot striker and an inward-pronator (I am demonstrably not). He also said that I was buying the wrong-sized shoes and instead of a 12, I should consider a size 10 or 10.5 because that is what the computer says (absurd). But the worst part was he just did not ask me a single a question his computer did not tell him to ask. He just kept telling me what would work for me and did not listen to a thing I said. We never discussed mileage, what my experiences were, etc… he seriously believed that I only own one pair of running shoes so it was good I was breaking a new pair in, before the big race.

Then there was the up-sell. First, it was insoles and he kept pushing incessantly until finally I had to assert that 3-weeks out from my first ultra, I am not going to make any changes to my training. When he told me that I “probably” was not wearing the right socks, I almost lost my patience.

Not surprisingly, when I went to cash out, the experience got worse. It was a typical high-pressure, rush-job, get-me-out-the-door. I had a coupon code, but he said, “Nah, I’ll just give you 35% off instead’. At the end of the transaction, he said, “Okay go ahead and swipe!” I looked at him flatly – “How much did it come to?” because with the coupon, I expected to pay about $40-$50 tops. He sheepishly said $126, which was three dollars less than the same pair of shoes on the internet, from the same store.

I walked away from the transaction simply saying, “I’m going to hold off.” I went to the house, called the 1-800 number to the store and purchased the exact same shoes for $31 after the VIP pricing, tax, and $85 coupon.

I spent 5 years of my life working retail sales. I understand working on commission and having to make a sale, but as I told this story at run group, it occurred to me that this guy totally mansplained running to me. Never asked me a single question. He had a sale to make, he was trying to dazzle me with fancy terms, and multiple times he would throw out “Let me tell you what this means” and in the end, just assumed I’d swipe my credit card without even checking the price, even though I laid out that I had a specific coupon that I wanted to use.

I put up the mansplain definition highlighting that the definition is explaining (something) to someone, typically (but not exclusively) a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. This is an understatement of what happened to me – and I got ticked off enough to write a rant about it. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for my wife, daughter, run club buddies and anyone else for that matter, to experience the same crap.

So I’m done with the big-box stores unless it’s specifically to try on a pair of shoes before buying it online. This is not the first negative experience I’ve had with this national chain, but this was just over-the-top. 

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