Army & Navy Shoe Sale 2013

a&nposterIt’s that time of year again.  Imagine a room full of rows upon rows of racks of beautiful shoes.  More shoes than you would even have time to try on.  But you attempt to anyway.  That’s right, ladies, the Legendary Army & Navy Shoe Sale is only a few days away.  And I do mean legendary in every sense of the word.  On Wednesday, April 24th, Army & Navy will open its doors at 8:00 am sharp for eager women in search of the perfect shoes.  This is the 64th year that they’ve held this sale and things only get better with time.  I’ve been to this sale for the past three years and each time have been increasingly impressed with their selections.  They receive well over 100,000 pairs for the sale and are constantly restocking throughout the twelve days.

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This year I had the privilege of meeting with footwear buyer Silvio Urbani, who showed me where all the many boxes of shoes are being stored awaiting the sale.  I was in awe when I saw all the boxes and skids in the warehouse, just wondering what shoes each one held.  I almost felt compelled to grab a box cutter and tear them all apart.  But I resisted the urge, as I did not wish to be banned from the store.  Instead I listened intently and contained my excitement.

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With over 85 brands to choose from, there’s something for everyone.  Clarks, GUESS, Kelsi Dagger, BCBG, Nine West, Steve Madden, Qupid, Andrew Geller, just to name a few.  I hear that Pour La Victoires are supposed to be a hot seller this year.  But how could they not be?  They’re gorgeous.  And I’m not crazy or shoe obsessed.  Okay, who am I kidding, clearly I am.  But take my word for it anyway.  As a bargain shopper, I know what I’m talking about.  Just because you’re paying less for something, doesn’t mean that it’s cheap or that you’re not getting your money’s worth.  At Army & Navy, you’re definitely getting more than your money’s worth.  Every pair of shoes at the sale is priced at $40 or less, regardless of how much the original cost was.  You really can’t go wrong.

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Sales this massive may seem intimidating to first timers.  But don’t worry, I promise you it won’t be the chaotic, dramatic, aggressive scene that you’re picturing.  Over the years, people have actually become more pleasant.  Rather than women fighting over shoes, there is now often a sense of camaraderie among them.  Last year, I met a lot of great people at the sale.  We sat together trying on our shoes, complimenting our various choices and giving our opinions.  The staff are also amazing and baskets are provided for those of us who like to try on as many as we possibly can all at once.  Shoppers are generally respectful and the sale is a real community building event where women can share their love of shoes.

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There are usually about 30,000 customers between the 6 stores each year.  Store locations are in Vancouver, New Westminster, Langley, Edmonton, and Calgary.  I’ve only ever been to the  Downtown Vancouver location on 36 West Cordova Street.  That place is like my home away from home.  I always feel welcome there and they always meet my needs.  With over 100,000 pairs of shoes, you’re bound to find at least one perfect pair.  Last year, I believe I found eleven.  On day one.  Apparently that’s a lot?  Each person buys about 3.5 pairs on average at the sale.  So you know, there are a lot of practical and reasonable shoppers out there.  And then the few excessive and compulsive buyers like myself come along.  Because shoe sales are where we belong.

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It’s recommended that you go early to make sure you get the deals.  I mean, everything’s a deal, but the nicest pairs go fast if you don’t hurry.  Doors open at 8:00 am on Wednesday, but people start lining up as early as 5:30 am.  Yes, while the rest of you are still asleep, a few crazy dedicated shoe lovers are out bright and early beginning to form what eventually becomes a massive lineup along Cordova Street.  Rain or shine, nothing gets in the way of a a new pair of shoes.

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If lineups and ridiculously early mornings aren’t your thing but you don’t want to miss out on first dibs at shoes, don’t fret, there is another way.  Contests!  I’m not just a bargain shopper and a shoe lover, I’m also a contest enthusiast.  So I’m going to go ahead and tell you about the ways in which you can possibly win VIP access to the shoe sale.  Because knowledge like this is too good to keep to myself.  First off, what is VIP access?  Pretty much, you get to skip the line, enter the store before it opens to the public, and go try on shoes before everybody else.  So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

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To win VIP access for you and 3 friends, plus a $250 shopping spree, simply click here and fill out the entry form.  I wish you luck!  Because we all deserve a new pair of shoes.  And the only thing better than a new pair of shoes is a free new pair of shoes.  There’s also a contest on the Army & Navy Facebook page where you can win a $100 gift card by uploading a 30 second video clip about your favourite Army & Navy moment.  I may enter myself, but there are too many good moments to choose from.  And you can win VIP access through their Shoe of the Week contest.  You can also win a new pair of shoes plus VIP access through Vancity Buzz.  It would also be worthwhile to tune in to your local radio stations and see if they might be giving away any VIP access prizes as well.

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If you’re unable to make it first thing in the morning on day one, it’s okay.  New stock fills those shelves everyday.  There’s room for 30,000 pairs on the shop floor and staff keep busy filling them throughout the day.  Every two hours or so is a good time to hit the sale, in between the spurts of crowds.  There is more selection this year than ever before and always something for everyone.  It’s not just all about heels.  If you prefer comfort, you don’t have to sacrifice style, as there are plenty of great flats, sandals, athletic, and walking shoes to choose from.  If you’re anywhere between a size 5 and a size 11, there’s sure to be a pair for you.  And while men’s shoes aren’t advertised as part of the sale, the store actually does have a great selection of them at reduced prices.  Literally something for everyone.

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So next Wednesday, I will be at 36 West Cordova Street at 7:00 am.  Because clearly I had to book a day off work for this.  It’s become a bit of a tradition for me.  It’s like a sign that spring is finally here.  And with spring, comes an excuse to buy new weather appropriate footwear.  Which in Vancouver is sometimes rain boots as opposed to sandals.  But Army & Navy has plenty of both so they got you covered.  The sale runs from April 24th to May 5th.  Hope to see you there!

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Farewell red rain boots, you’ve served me well, but now it’s time for you to die

Remember a few years ago when I bought a pair of red rain boots at Army & Navy? Well I did. And they were wonderful. I loved them more than any other boot. So much so that I wore them all the time. Sometimes even when it wasn’t raining. Because I could.

Well folks, those days have come to a sad end. I knew they were worn out. But I like to wait until the last possible moment before I finally give up on something. I guess that moment was yesterday, when the zipper broke on my right boot. I have the worst luck with zippers. I’ve lost many a boot that way. But none that I loved as much as these.

And yes, I am aware I already acknowledged this travesty in one of my creepy poems written to inanimate objects yesterday. But I felt they deserved to be acknowledged in a slightly less creepy way as well. I feel I owe them that much.

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It’s sad when the zipper breaks and you have to walk around in the rain with taped up boots.

Confessions of a shoeaholic

On the weekend, I went to not one, but two shoe sales.  Well the second one was technically a boot sale.  But yeah.  Footwear sales, if you will.  I’m not going to tell you how many pairs I bought or how much money I spent.  Let’s just say I may have gone a little crazy and I may end up on a future episode of Hoarders or Intervention.

A while ago, I was thinking about how a lot of people have 365 days of blogging type blogs.  One in particular is 365 Days of Dining.  That would have been my dream job.  Except that I write more about shoes than I do about food.  I considered the possibility of writing a 365 days of shoes blog.  Each day, I would post pictures of a different pair of shoes, describe them, and maybe talk about where/when I bought them, or a memory of one of the times I’ve worn them.  I’m not sure how many pairs of shoes I own.  Not 365.  But if I run out, I could always start taking pictures of other people’s shoes, or shoes that I see in a store.

The problem is, I’ve barely had time lately to write regular posts on this blog.  And that one time I attempted to start another blog, it failed.  I mean I did start a blog where I wrote about TV shows and movies but it only lasted four months because it was just impossible to keep up.  I would imagine a shoe blog would be easier to manage, seeing as I already have the shoes so half the work is already done.

I likely won’t pursue this idea because I know I probably won’t have time for it.  Also I’m sure if I were to do it, you would judge me.  You know, even more than you already do now.  Which I’m fine with.  My friend who accompanied with me to both shoe sales doesn’t judge me because our friendship is based upon no judgement.  Although I’ve realized that can be a dangerous thing if you happen to have an addictive personality.  She’s pretty much my enabler.  If she hadn’t driven me to Army & Navy and helped me carry my bags, I would not have been able to make the purchases that I did.

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Boots at the Army & Navy boot sale

As I sit here now, I’m not even wearing my new shoes or boots yet.  I’m wearing my old ones.  Which I love.  But the reason I’m not wearing new ones is because a lot of them are still sitting in the trunk of her car.  Because I couldn’t bring them all into the house at once because I didn’t want my family to see them.  When you start to hide things, is that the sign of a problem?  My friend said she would start calling me Imelda Marcos now and I informed her that my dad has been calling me that for years.  I’ll just blame it on Shoe Warehouse, my second mall job, because it was when I worked there that my love for shoes emerged into the chaotic mess it is today.

My friend who doesn’t judge me almost thought of staging an intervention.  But she decided against it since that would have been a form of judgement.  I guess when someone who doesn’t judge you wants to stage an intervention, that’s the sign of a problem.  But I’m not at the acceptance stage yet.  I think I’m still just in denial.  Which is an okay place to be.  I’m not sure what rock bottom looks like.  Perhaps it’s when I start going to sales by myself and buy more than I can carry?  Or when I fall and become buried under a pile of my own shoes and can’t escape?  Or when my Visa gets declined because I’ve maxed it out on shoes?  But none of those things have happened.  Yet.

At this point, I have cut myself off.  No more shoes.  Or boots.  Especially boots.  I bought a lot of boots.  I may force myself to return a couple pairs.  I felt total judgement was upon me the entire time I was shopping, both from the employees and from the other customers.  But I didn’t care.  Nothing mattered except the good deals I was getting on my boots.  And I justified it by the fact that some people spend a few hundred dollars on one pair, while I was getting several pairs at $50 or less per pair.  That makes sense, right?

We really should have gone to Army & Navy first.  If we had, I would have bought less at the shoe sale in Burnaby.  Or probably not even have gone to it.  But I was informed about it by friends and so I attended the shopping event at Gizeh Shriners Hall.  At first, I was complaining about the lack of size 8’s.  But then I proceeded to locate every size 8 I possibly could.  Let’s just say, these were not my proudest moments.  Saturday was an expensive day.

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Shoes at the Burnaby shoe sale

But yes.  I am cut off.  No more footwear.  Unless it’s socks.  I’m always in need of more socks.  And that’s not an obsession, that’s just a necessity, since I’m constantly losing pairs every time I do laundry.  And I don’t think anyone ever went into debt from buying too many socks.  Although watch me somehow be the first.  But I’m not in debt and I will pay my Visa bill on time and I will refrain from buying anymore shoes or boots for a while.  I could probably get away with not buying anymore ever.  But for now I’ll just see how long I can wait.  Anyone want to place any bets on how long I can go without buying new shoes?  I promise if I win the bet, I won’t spend the money on footwear.

Oh, hello red rain boots. I’ve missed you. Did you miss me?

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My red Cougar rain boots from Army & Navy

It was sunny for a while.  But not anymore.  It’s over.  It’s all over.  Now there’s just rain, rain, and more rain.  I pulled out my red rain boots last weekend when we had that crazy downpour, and now I’m wearing them once again.  Perhaps I should never take them off, since the rain is showing no signs of stopping.  I’m not a huge fan of the rain.  But my favourite thing about it is that I get to wear these boots.

I bought a new pair of sandals

The purple flojos I got at the Orb sale have little peace signs on them that actually end up cutting you between the toes. And so I bought these new Clarks Bendables sandals at Winners. Had my feet not been hurting me at the time, I probably wouldn’t have bought them, or even noticed them. But I’m glad I did.

I went to a shoe sale and didn’t go crazy

So on Friday after work, I went to the Designer Shoe Warehouse Sale by Petite Feet at the Richmond Olympic Oval.  I know, it was definitely too soon for me, as Army & Navy was only a couple months ago.  But whatever.  I had to at least check it out.  I’m sure people would think there was something wrong if hadn’t gone.

I thought the location of the sale was funny.  I mean it was right next to a basketball court.  Where a bunch of people were playing basketball.  I’m not sure who got more of a workout, the basketball players, or the shoe shoppers.

There seemed to be a lot of size 6s.  Everywhere.  I swear that was half the sale.  I guess because those are the sample sizes.  That’s always so upsetting.  I guess it was called the “Petite Feet” sale for a reason.

Flashbacks from the Army & Navy Shoe Sale hit me as I saw the racks.  But it really wasn’t as exciting at all.  I found the size 8 racks and looked through my options.  None of the shoes had prices on them.  And then I saw the signs which indicated them and I wasn’t too impressed.  The sandals were $50.  And then it was $60 for other ones, flats I think?  And then even higher prices for other heels and whatnot.  Boots were over $100.  At Army & Navy, each pair of shoes I bought was $39.99 or less.

You could get a free pair, but only if you bought 4 pairs first.  Forget that.  I was thinking maybe I could try and pool together some pairs with my friends and then get a free pair between us and then split it somehow.  But that idea was too complicated to pull off.

I saw these shoes on the rack and recognized them immediately.  I bought them at Army & Navy.  And here they were again, except this time more expensive.  This upset me, but also made me happier about my Army & Navy purchases.  It was funny seeing all these women scramble over the designer shoes at the Oval, when I had already found much better deals.

I threw a couple pairs in my basket and then walked over to a table.  A table filled with walking shoes.  I found this intriguing.  Mostly because they were only $15.  Now they were speaking my language.  They were interesting too.  They had these built in Dr. Scholl’s insoles.  They were all pretty much the same, but came in different colours.  I tried to see which ones looked the least like old people walking shoes.

I looked up from where I was and could see in the distance, a bunch of people on exercise equipment, like stationary bikes and treadmills working out.  I bet that from a distance, they could see a bunch of people trying on shoes.

I found a chair next to the table and sat down with my basket.  I looked down at it and thought it was rather sad.  I mean I barely even needed the basket.  Which is funny, since at the last shoe sale I attended, I was lugging around two full ones.  I guess this is a good thing?  This means that I’ve improved, right?

I didn’t really need anymore heels.  I needed something comfortable.  And built in insoles just seemed so cool.  I just needed to figure out what colour to get.  Normally I’d go with blue, but I already own a pair of blue running shoes.

I tried on other shoes anyway.  I mean you never until you try them, right?  I liked these Franco Sarto flats.  But they were $50.  Well, $40 with the VIP coupon.  Because you know I printed the shit out of those coupons.  Apparently I didn’t have to, because you get a $10 coupon just for checking into the sale on Facebook.  But I don’t check into places on Facebook anymore.

I also liked this pair of flats.  But again, did I want to pay $60, or more, or however much they cost?  I was also worried that the jewel part on the top might break off somehow.  Even if they seemed secure, count on me to find a way to cause them to break.  Because I tend to not take that great care of my things.  I love shoes, but I don’t always treat them very well.

These gold shoes were nice.  But not for my feet.  I think my toes are wider than the average person’s toes.  And as a result, pointy or narrow shoes don’t seem to work for me.  My toes were coming off of the shoe.  There was just not enough shoe there for them to rest on.  Such a pity.

I think these were Naturalizers.  So they were comfortable.  But they didn’t look good enough.  It’s also really awkward trying on shoes when they’re attached by that string thing that keeps them together.  I mean okay, it prevents you from misplacing one of the pair.  But it’s also quite annoying.  I often snap the string, accidentally on purpose, so that I can walk in the shoes properly to test them out.

These shoes were on a $30 table.  But they didn’t fit very well.  I was beginning to lose hope.  On one hand, I was upset that I’d chosen to come there and that the selection wasn’t as great as it could have been.  But on the other hand, I was grateful that I wouldn’t be wasting a lot of money there.

I kind of liked these flats.  But they were really flat.  Which yes, flats tend to be.  But I mean after a while of wearing them, I’m sure my feet would be sore from lack of support.  I didn’t really need another pair of black flats.  But the grey flower design sort of set these apart.

I sort of had my own little shoes trying on station set up at the end of the table.  It was quite efficient.  I’m really glad I found that chair and was able to claim it as my own before someone else was able to.

My friend tried on this crazy pair of heels with spikes on the back.  These killer shoes could do some serious damage.  I think they were one of the most expensive pairs there.  I guess because of the fact that they could easily double as a weapon?

In terms of support, walking shoes were the way to go.  I mean it made sense, I was at the Oval and next to a basketball court after all.  Not that I would be playing any sports or anything.  The problem with these was that, however comfortable, they were just too darn loose, even when I tightened the laces.

I opted for trying on a size 7.5 instead of an 8, which normally would be unheard of.  But for some reason, they did fit me better.  I decided to go with the purple ones.  There was also pink and red, but purple seemed best.  And the ones that were just plain white reminded me too much of old people walking shoes.

I tried on the flats again, this time with socks on.  Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous it looks.  But they were just so much more comfortable that way.  If I were able to pull off this look, I would.  But I guess after that it would be a slippery slope towards socks and sandals.

The socks weren’t as bad with the black flats.  But I guess it still just didn’t work.  Perhaps if I wore a different pair of socks?  Like plain black ones?  But then where’s the fun in that? I guess if I feel the need to wear sock with the flats, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

In the end, I spent $15.  Well $16 something after tax.  Unfortunately, the VIP coupon did not work towards the walking shoes.  I guess that’s because they were so cheap already.  What a waste that I printed out three coupons.  Oh well.  I like how they bag the shoes in plastic.  It’s as if they’re bagging them as evidence.  Evidence that you’ve spent money that you probably shouldn’t have.