Shoes Confessions

by Dayana Yochim [October 2, 2007]

I’ve kept this article in a special place for a good time now (as date shows). It was an email chain that was mailed to me by my sister. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anyone to share with. See, it had to be someone who can totally relate to it; not another shoe hogger… but a compulsive shoe shopper who also understood the financial world. Someone who would break out in hives and laughter.

Then, I “found” this absolutely gorgeous photo by a fellow flickrian and I thought: what the heck, I gotta blog this! So kudos to both Dayana and Gods Emerald.

According to the findings of a new Consumer Reports National Research Center poll, I am way, way above average. Very gifted. An anomaly, one might say. I just happen to excel in the highly important area of shoe ownership.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 women across the country, 95% of American women are – compared to moi (with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%) – shoe amateurs.

Just look at the sorry track record of the average female’s foot wear wardrobe. According to the poll, the typical woman …

Owns only 19 pairs of kicks. Buys a pitiable four pairs of shoes per year. In addition: Just 33% of them have trouble finding room to store all their shoes. Only 60% have regretted at least one shoe purchase.

Ladies, if you want to compete, you’ve got to step it up.

You call that a shoe fetish?

Speaking from experience, the closet of a true shoe lover has barely enough room to accommodate an extra T-shirt. Purchasing only four pairs of shoes a year? Please. A true shoephile can score at least some foot-related product any where – Target, Costco, Ace Hardware, ExxonMobil. If you can’t find a pair of flip-flops or waders before you get to the checkout counter, you’re not even trying.

It’s true that regretful shoe purchases are plentiful – but a true shoe pro doesn’t rue a faulty purchase for long. She knows that the universal laws of shoe-shopping ensure that for every pair that pinches after she’s already worn the soles on concrete, an antidote will present itself on the “take 50% off the lowest-marked price” rack. (And in her size!)

Find investment opportunities in your obsessionTrue shoe pros not only own an impressive collection of footwear, but also have the where withal to turn their obsession into a money making opportunity.

When you’re looking for a pure wardrobe play – say, an abundance of casual sneakers or fashion forward winter boots – you of course go directly to the source. Same goes for investing, where companies like Steve Madden (Nasdaq: SHOO), Skechers (NYSE: SKX), and serial shoe company acquirer Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW) often outperform the stocks of the storefronts that peddle them.

You don’t have to buy into a trend to capitalize on it. Even the most hideous looking kicks can, well, kick butt in your portfolio. Case in point: Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX) stock has risen 367% since its February 2006 IPO.

But remember, ladies, fashion wanes (I doubt you’re dying to strut around in UGGs this year) and fortunes tumble right along with it. Heelys (Nasdaq:HLYS), the maker of those concussion inducing kids’ shoes with wheels, has plummeted around 75% since it went public in December 2006.

But if you’re on the forefront of fashion (and perusing the storefronts for research), you’ll spot these trends way before the Wall Street suits do.

There are glimmers of true shoe investors in the results of the Consumer Reports survey. For example:
  • 13% of women have hidden a purchase from a significant other.
  • 43% have been injured – at least “moderately” – by their shoes.
  • 8% report more serious injuries such as sprains or breaks.
To these true shoe contenders, I click my peacock-blue, pointy-toed, leather-lined kitten heels twice in admiration. And I encourage you to take your obsession to the next level: Investing.


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