Friday, June 4, 2010

The Industrialists Vs. The Cobblers -- Part 2

Yesterday I sketched out some of the relevant information concerning the industrial powers and how they drove cobblers out of the shoe business. All of that is true and indisputable.

Today I decided, since I still haven't got sufficient viability to nose around the industrial section, instead to nose around various shoe stores. My purpose was to see the quality of the shoes they sell, with the idea that once I saw how bad they were I could come back here and lament the demise of the cobblers.

My purpose in doing this is not to bring back the cobblers. They already committed suicide sometime after the Industrial Revolution, and even if they hadn't they would've been dead by now anyway from other causes. No, the cobblers are gone for good. So all we can do is lament their demise, and maybe -- who knows? -- inspire a new generation of cobblers if we're successful in bringing down the industrial powers.

My first stop was Target. I went to the shoe section and looked at their mass produced shoes. I didn't see anything I liked. The selection at Target sucks, not just for shoes but almost everything else too. I don't know what their problem is, unless there's a shortage of stock men to stock the shelves. When I go to Target to get something, I end up going to Walmart afterward, because they invariably don't have it.

So I made the predictable visit next to Walmart. Their shoes have the famous Dr. Scholl's name, some of them. Dr. Scholl was a guy, I believe, who made his mark in selling shoe inserts, meant to make non-cobbled shoes more comfortable. Right there is an indictment against mass-produced shoes. I myself have on a pair of these Dr. Scholl shoes, which in my opinion aren't comfortable. I'm forever taking them off to let my feet rest up before putting them back on.

Next I went to nose around the Famous Footwear store. I'd never been to a F.F. store before and probably won't be going back. Their staff are all wired with headphones and microphones, with electronic devices on their belts. It's Al Bundy for a new age! I don't know what they were saying to each other, but every time I took a pair of shoes off the shelf to check out the (lack of) quality, there was a lot of conferring amongst them. They seemed to know I was there to dis their shoes.

Finally I went to Payless Shoe Source -- is that their name? "Source"? I think of the word "source" as being reserved for big important things, like "The Source of the Nile," not a cheap, two-bit shoe place. This is the place that always has BOGO on the brain, a perpetual Buy One Get One Half Off "sale" they have. So what do you get for shoes? In my opinion they don't look good! Plus, what a crazy way to arrange the store ... all the shoes of a particular size are accumulated together, with no distinction between sandals, high heels, or thongs. That's what you get when the cobblers are gone, a shoe store that's simply going through the motions.

Buying shoes, browsing for shoes, or just nosing around a shoe store, is a sad experience. I pity anyone in the modernized, mechanized shoe industry. Not just because they surely have it on their conscience somewhere, the demise of the cobblers of the past. But because it's extremely boring, their whole presentation. And their shoes, again, in my opinion, are terrible.

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