My 18 year old son has gotten into running after a lifetime of little emphasis on athletics even though he is athletic and in good shape. He wanted good running shoes so we went to Foot Locker yesterday. We walked to the sneaker section and asked a teen salesperson for help. The kid mumbled something I could not understand, pointed and waited. I know invitations and weddings but I know nothing about sneakers other than my size. We tried asking other questions and he mumbled some more and finally my son tried on a pair of sneakers that by description seemed to be the right type. They seemed okay and we bought them for $120 and went home. He tried running with them and his feet hurt so we decided to return them. My son said that the hovering of the kid made him nervous and he felt obligated to make a decision (I guess there is a sales lesson in that). My wife returned them the next day and by the evening he wanted to try again.

I said okay and that we would go back to the same place. He said no but I convinced him by telling him that I wouldn’t let the same thing happen. We went in and I asked my son if I could approach a salesperson and ask “do you know a lot about sneakers?” My son gave me permission and asked a salesperson named Anthony and he looked me in the eyes and said yes. Well 90 minutes later we got a sneaker education on differences for wide feet, flat feet, runners preferences and was told that the brand we returned was too narrow for my son’s wide feet. Another salesperson assisted who was a runner. My son tried on several pairs, they tied his sneakers, and advised him. My son made a choice and walked away feeling that he made an intelligent decision and I am confident that these sneakers are a keeper.

I guarantee you my son would feel a lot worse about returning sneakers this time. It is one thing to make a sale, that happened day one. It’s another thing to win a customer. That happened day two.