December 11, 2012

A Good Experience in the World of Outdoor-Gear Retailing

When this blog was young (2006), I wrote a post about the snobbery of some outdoor-gear shops and gun shops:
You walk through the door, and the clerk's look says, "Are you cool enough to be shopping here? Do I recognize you from Outside or Fly Fisherman magazine?"
This time, M.'s favorite Patagonia hiking shoes were dying, so Santa agreed to take her to Mountain Chalet in Colorado Springs and replace them.

But that model, the "Bly," was not on display. The saleswoman fetched a printed catalog, and M. found the shoe, somewhat redesigned but now apparently discontinued, or at least that was the story.

Still, the saleswoman praised them: "Half the women who work here bought those shoes." Or else she was shrewdly praising M's judgment, a little ego-boost for the customer — whatever. 

Then she did something that surprised us. She went to a computer, looked up the shoe, and found that Sierra Trading Post, a Wyoming-based chain that sells a lot of discontinued and closed-out outdoor gear and clothing, still had them. I had my laptop computer with me, so I went down Tejon Street to Rico's wine bar, ordered a glass of something, and dropped the shoes into my virtual shopping cart, at 40 percent off the original price.

So to give credit where it is due, she did not make a sale, but she left us with warm, fuzzy feelings about Mountain Chalet, and when M. wears out these shoes in a year or two, we will probably look there first again. When you have a brick-and-mortar (literally!) specialty store, you have to do these things.

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