Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Favorite Shoes from Marshalls Shoe Megastore

Have you heard about the new Marshalls Shoe Megastore yet? I heard about it through various promotions online, and my local paper covered it (because apparently they understand what's important news to the Style Bard). So, being that I'm all about shoes, I thought I'd do a little write-up of my own. Especially considering that my new favorite everyday shoes came from there.

The same weekend the newspaper article came out, I had the near-coincidental pleasure of running all over town to not one, not two, but three Marshalls locations by my house because I needed to find shoes for two very different purposes. One, new shoes for work, and two, dressier sandals for those not-quite-flip-flop not-quite-heels occasions. (You ladies know what I mean.) I designated Marshalls as the place to go, since I'd heard so much about their renovations and the newly-expanded selection in the shoe department. I had to see it for myself. (Fun fact: I started heavily relying on Marshalls in my college years, when I hardly had two coins to rub together, yet couldn't walk through Downtown Crossing without stopping by their Clearance rack. Shout out to Boston readers!)

So, I do have a bit of a feel for what's new to Marshalls' shoes. But let me tell you more about the store's makeover before I get into my latest little narrative:

A few months ago, Marshalls debuted a new way to sell shoes. The major advertised difference is that you can shop by style, rather than size. Previously, an array of racks displayed the available shoes by size, with a designated Clearance selection. Now, you can walk through rows of shoes with one sample style on display, at the top where it's easy to examine, and underneath you'll find a selection of shoes in the sizes that style has available (think DSW, as opposed to Payless). So basically, when you stand in one spot in the Shoe Megastore, you can easily get a feel for the assembly of shoe styles available and navigate toward what you're looking for. (Don't worry; if my distinctions between old and new are unclear, you can take a Virtual Tour!)

There are a few cons, however.

In two of the locations I visited, about 45 minutes apart from each another, the Clearance section along the walls was a real problem. Rather than being arranged by style -or- size, they were not in any sort of order at all. You could, say, walk the length of the wall, see if you liked a shoe, and then check the size of it (after searching on the sole, footbed OR inner wall of the shoe, depending on the brand) (if it's on there at all) but that's a real hassle. You could, for instance, spot a shoe from afar, instantly fall for said shoe, get to the shoe, and discover it isn't anywhere near your size. In fact, you could do this three times. (And by you, I mean me. It was crushing, really.) Hopefully, this disaster was because the Marshalls Shoe Megastore was new, they just hadn't gotten this under wraps yet. When I'm there again, I'll let you know.

The new system also isn't that great for time constraints. If you have the time to browse through the aisles and look at the shoes, that's one thing. For example, it was easy for me to scour for green shoes (I'll get back to that). But once you locate what you're looking for, you then secondarily have to see if they have it in your size, and try it on. On one hand, if it doesn't fit by half a size, you don't have to entirely relocate to a different size section. On the other hand, if they don't have your size or it doesn't fit, you start all over again- as opposed to being in your general size zone and seeing what they have or don't, right off the bat.

So there are definitely pros and cons to the system, and I hope that the Clearance in particular works itself out because as of right now, it gets a big ol' frown from the Style Bard. But the main renovations are great, you just need to be aware that shopping in a hurry may be out of the question.

Now about my shoes (finally).

As readers of Style Bard Shoes know, I'm on the lookout for some green (and maybe orange!) shoes right now. I was also looking for some new office-appropriate shoes that I could also wear to a party (being held on the night of the afternoon I went to Marshalls).

See, there was this marketing event downtown, and due to a recent move, my items were still in boxes on their way down the coast to me. So I needed new shoes for this last-minute event, fast! But when I got there I discovered that while you could generally run into Marshalls and grab shoes in the past, this new way causes you to slow down and browse and spend time considering shoes that don't even exist in your size. A lot of stooping and rummaging boxes, for naught. I did, in the end, wind up running late to my party BUT I discovered a pair in the eleventh hour. Franco Sarto "Feline" patent peep-toe wedges:

Which were perfect with my dress, despite the fact that I was looking for a colorful shoe when I went into Marshalls. And not only that, but they're soooo extraordinarily comfortable, and I wear them all the time now. They're definitely one of my new favorites.

So much do I love these shoes, in fact, that I want to buy them in Avocado Green, which I also saw in Marshalls... but not in my size. I paid $40 for these shoes. Now? I can only find them online for about $93. Go ahead! See for yourself! So while I'm so happy at the bargain I got at Marshalls, I'm very sad because now I really, really want those patent green wedges, too. (I may be making some calls to other local Marshalls to see what can be done about this. No way am I paying almost $100 when I know I can get them for less at Marshalls!! Heresy.)

Later visits to Marshalls led me not to Avocado Franco Sarto wedges, but to sparkley shiny gold thong sandals that make me very happy and fulfill my second shoe goal (if you can remember back that far). All in all, I think my shopping experince was very fruitful -- and my two very pleasing new shoes? The wedges AND sandals were like, $52 all together. Now that is a fantastic deal -- I can't even buy the one pair alone anywhere else for almost twice that much money!

As a side note, I should say that I did contact Marshalls to ask if they'd ever offer a more comprehensive way to shop online. Because of my shoe sales alerts on Style Bard Shoes, that's something I would be interested in. At this time, they would love to be able to do so but aren't sure when that would be possible. Marshalls across the country are all allotted differing selections from their outlets, so it's hard to really represent what you can find. (I happen to like that aspect; it's the scavenger hunter in me. It's just really hard to represent the store, and more and more people prefer to shop online, so that's a huge market they're missing out on.) You can get a feel for what kinds of shoes they offer here, or just stop by the store and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

If you visit Marshalls, let me know about your experience and your finds!
And I'd love to hear about the condition of your local Marshalls Shoe Megastore clearance sections.

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