I am not a brand name snob; not a Have To Be. I’m not even a Brand Name Wanna Be. Members Only jackets, Like Mike Nike sneakers, alligators on shirts, or kangaroos on hats. I have never been a Sneetch, star on belly or not. One woman’s Payless is another woman’s Prada as far as I’m concerned. I become a loyal card-carrying customer not by big celebrity endorsements or economical supply and demand calculations. Philanthropy pushes my buttons. Companies that give back are the highest on my list.
Take New Balance, for example. In the past I have praised a particular NB store for the competency of the employees working there. Never in my life have I been treated with such serious respect. Never mind I didn’t have the street cred of a marathon under my belt. I was impressed with the service. I didn’t compliment the company for its quality of personnel, though. I thought it was a unique, one store only, situation – not likely to occur anywhere else.
Not so fast. I encountered a second New Balance store in the Boston area. I was (admittedly) drawn to them for the simple fact that I am frugal, better known as cheap. Outlet = cheap in my lexicon. To sweeten the deal New Balance was generously giving Just ‘Cause walkers a 30% discount on all purchases. How could I go wrong? My plan was simple: I knew what I needed; exactly what I would be buying. I was getting a replacement pair of 850 runners, a few shirts and oh yeah, something to walk 60 miles in…It all seemed so simple until I asked innocently about those walking shoes, “So, I’m walking 60 miles for this cancer thing…” I thought it might be in my best interest to get the very best high-tech walking shoes a woman could buy. Despite walking all three days last year in runners I thought I would do myself (and my feet) a favor by buying real, honest-to-goodness walking shoes.
“You want runners” the guy wearing the NB logo on his shirt said resolutely.
“Runners?!” I sputtered, too stunned to say much more.
“But. But, but! Walking is so completely different than running!” I gasped.
“Yes. That’s true. But, anything you do for inordinate amounts of time – walking, running, even standing, needs to be supported with the best technology” Mr. Sales Guy reasoned calmly.
“Really?” I still couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
One look into his eyes and I could tell he was being completely honest. Despite the fact I was willing to buy two pairs of normally very expensive footwear the NB guy was directing me back to the area I knew oh so well – running. This was my dual duh/aha moment. Duh because what NB Guy was telling me made sense. Aha because this explained the pain and multicolored bruising I was experiencing on the tops of my feet. Walking 14 hours at a time in shoes designed for “running” errands around town were the problem.
The folks at New Balance didn’t have to give Just ‘Cause a discount of any kind. What’s more, their amazing staff didn’t need to bend over backwards to help non-marathon running me. And. they certainly didn’t need to talk me out of making a second, yet unnecessary sale. They did it because they’re good people. They truly have my best interest in mind and right now, that interest is my feet. Thanks for caring, New Balance. You are my Prada.