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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

20 Things Shoe Salespeople Are Secretly Thinking About You

Ever wonder what the person who helps you get 300 different pairs of shoes is thinking when in the backroom? Here's a glimpse.

1 / 20

Don’t have an attitude

I may be kneeling at your feet, but I’m not your servant. Lose the ’tude, dude.

2 / 20

Don’t feel self conscious about your feet

Don’t ask for a size 7 if you’re a 9. No one cares how big your feet are (though we all appreciate a little foot powder, if it’s not too much trouble). Try some of these effective home remedies for foot odor.

3 / 20

Length and width both matter

Shoes should be as wide as your feet and longer than your feet. It’s not just the distance from the heel to the end of the big toe that matters. It’s also the distance from the heel to the ball of the foot. Here are some shoe mistakes you’re making that cause you foot pain.

4 / 20

Stop ruining the samples

Don’t try on sample shoes if they’re not your size. “People smash their feet into shoes that are three sizes too small, and then I have sample shoes that have been stretched,” says a New York salesman.

5 / 20

Don’t talk on the phone

Please don’t keep me waiting 10 minutes while you talk on your cell phone. What if I did that to you? Here are some more cell phone behaviors that make you seem rude.

6 / 20

We don’t make the shoes; we just sell them

If we don’t have exactly what you want, it may not exist. And I can’t cobble it together in the back room while you wait either.

7 / 20

Shoes won’t solve your problems

Losing weight will make your knees, ankles, and feet feel better. Shoes: not so much. Here’s what your favorite shoes reveal about your personality.

8 / 20

Keep the measuring device on the floor

The metal gauge that measures the width and length of your feet is called a Brannock Device. Tell your kids it should stay flat on the floor and not go hurtling through the air toward my head. Many thanks. These are the craziest things Walmart employees have seen at work.

9 / 20

Stop returning your shoes

Don’t be a serial shoe returner. Once or twice, okay. But 10 or 20 times a year? I don’t think so. Here are some tricks to make your shoes last longer.

10 / 20

Take our word

If we tell you that a shoe isn’t a good fit, take our word for it. Customers have been known to try on a shoe that’s too small, and then they can’t get it off. This expert tip will help you find the perfect running shoes for you.

11 / 20

Don’t waste our time

I’ve spent 30 minutes with you, and then you tell me you need your wife’s approval? News flash: She doesn’t need yours. Next time, bring her along.

12 / 20

You get what you pay for

A $20 shoe isn’t going to feel (or last) like a $120 shoe. Learn some more secrets your sales clerk won’t tell you.

13 / 20

Bring your own socks

Do you really want to borrow one of the store’s footies to try on shoes? The ones in that box? The ones that everyone in town has used? The ones that haven’t been washed since I started working here? (I didn’t think so.) These are health secrets your feet wish they could tell you.

14 / 20

Don’t fall for prices ending in 9, 99, or 95

These so-called charm prices make us think they reflect deals. We also tend to round them down, reading a price like $5.99 as $5, a phenomenon known as the left-digit effect. Markdowns don’t often include these magic numbers. That’s because when the discount is easy to calculate, we think it’s a better bargain. Thus “Originally $20, now $15” works better than “Originally $20, now $13.97.” You’ll be more tempted to go with the former, even though the latter saves you more. Here are some more sneaky ways stores trick you into spending more.

15 / 20

If you’re a guy, shop alone

According to a Journal of Marketing Research study reported by, a full 56 percent of men shell out more if they hit the mall with a friend as compared with women, 4 percent of whom actually racked up bigger receipts when going solo. That’s because when men shop, they like to show off their knowledge and status via their purchases. Learn the secrets your mall salesperson won’t tell you.

16 / 20

Leave your emotions at the door

Leave your emotional baggage at the door. If you’re angry at your kids or your spouse or your job, it’s not our fault. Don’t take it out on us.

17 / 20

Don’t get defensive

If we come up to you and say “Hello” or “Can I help you?” don’t get defensive. We’re not trying to hustle you. We’re doing our job. And sometimes we’re just being friendly. Men especially are afraid they’re being trapped.

18 / 20

We know if a shoe was worn

Don’t return a shoe and claim it hasn’t been worn when it has. We can tell.

19 / 20

It’s not our fault your feet hurt

Don’t blame us if you walk five miles a day on asphalt and your feet are sore—especially if you’re wearing those pumps you bought in L.A., where nobody walks. Check out these podiatrist-approved tips to wear high heels without pain.

20 / 20

We don’t mind…if you buy.

We don’t mind getting you five or ten pairs of shoes—that’s our job—but it would be nice if you walked out the door with at least one pair. Next, learn the secrets to cleaning every shoe in your closet.

Sources: Shoe salespeople in New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest