Kids these days cherish cheap character themed shoes which flash an array of colors with every step, stomp and kick. While the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to shut down the production of these shoes for fear they may confuse planes on approach to O’Hare or Midway at night, the reality is these types of shoes often sacrifice proper footwear design for novelty. As parents, my wife and I always thought the chief difference between service-driven children’s shoe stores and mega value shoe store X was brand labels and price. However, our opinion recently changed as our youngest son developed a strange form as he ran, throwing his right foot out to side in a skipping-like stride. At first our concern was some sort of orthopedic issue, but our first stop was to drop into a true children’s shoe store to get a consult from someone who actually knew what they were talking about.
We were spending the afternoon in Downtown Naperville and decided to drop by Gotskinds Children’s Shoes and Apparel on Jefferson Avenue next to Andersons Books. Almost immediately we were approached by a store associate and were not forced to hunt to see if anyone actually worked there as we have time and time again at mega value shoe store X. We explained the issue and instead of encountering a wall of super hero characters anxiously awaiting to flash their beacons of light in the night, the associate carefully measured the size and contour of my little guy’s feet and headed into the back to pick an array of lighter shoe types to try on. No novelty shoes here, these were good shoes for developing little feet. Not only did the associate explain the design of each shoe and what should be considered in terms of foot development but Pat, the store manager, also came over to evaluate my son’s stride based on years of expertise and helped us pick the right shoe. We ended up with a pair of New Balance which were not only light and comfortable but also extremely easy to get on and off (parents, you know what I’m talking about). Best of all, while the price was a bit more expensive than mega value shoe store X, the combination of shoe quality and the incredible service we received was worth the extra dollars. At the end of the day, do you really want to cut corners when it comes to your children’s ability to walk correctly? We learned our lesson.
Over the past two weeks, I’m pleased to report my son’s stride issue has almost copmletely resolved itself and a recent trip to our pediatrician confirmed that there was no abnormality from a growth/development standpoint. Clearly, it was the cheap shoes that mega brand shoe store X was more than happy to sell us without any consideration for the type of shoe my son actually needed.
As for Gotskinds, I was overwhelmed by the experience, service and care we received and am reminded of why we must be sure that small businesses with these levels of expertise do not become extinct in Naperville. My thanks to Pat and the associate who helped us that day. We will definitely be back. One constructive suggestion though, when you recommend a pair of children’s sandals as being the “Mercedes-Benz” of sandals you might want to go ahead and share the price prior to getting to the cash register. Nonetheless, the overall service and piece-of-mind is worth the small premium you might pay at Gotskinds. Just remember, your children need those flippers for a lifetime of walking, running and stomping.
Gotskinds Children’s Shoes and Apparel is located at 115 West Jefferson Avenue in Downtown Naperville.