Warning: I am about to reveal evidence that proves I am a shoe snob. I understand that some readers may disagree with my opinions about the shoe selection in Switzerland, but perhaps you can understand where I'm coming from if you realize that my parents raised me to appreciate gorgeous, well-made leather shoes. Furthermore, I have been disappointed with my shoe shopping experiences in this country not for lack of high-quality shoes but for lack of value for my money.
Up until recently, I was on the lookout for a new pair of flats. (Ever since the ankle incident of July 2009, I have not been able to successfully wear high-heeled shoes. And since I don't really care to wear sneakers for the next six months (or longer) until my foot finally heals, I'd decided to treat myself to some cute flat footwear to cheer me up.) My requirements were simple: something stylish, comfortable, versatile, well made, and reasonably priced. However, in my current neck of the woods, these basic principles of shoe shopping are completely nonexistent. Here it seems I have only two options: pay super crazy prices for designer and/or well-made leather shoes or pay mid-range to crazy prices for poorly made, cheap-looking shoes. (See? Snob.)
Back in San Diego, my problem would be fixed in a jiffy with a trip to Nordstrom (during a sale) or Nordstrom Rack (or my trusty shoe shop on the Mexican border, which shall remain nameless because then you'd know my secret place for buying fab shoes on the cheap.) Here in Switzerland, the issue isn't that I can't find a decent pair of flats, but rather that I refuse to pay 150 CHF or more for them! At the lower-end shops, similar to Payless, you'll pay Payless prices for Payless quality. Then there are shops in the mid-price range that, unfortunately, still look like Payless shoes. I will admit, though, that when my sister was here, she managed to find two pairs of cute boots for around 50 CHF per pair, one at Max Shoes and the other at a shoe boutique in St. Gallen. (A stroke of good luck, I tell you.)
In my price range we have Dosenbach: Home of Cindy Crawford for Dosenbach, a.k.a. the Fifth Avenue Collection. I kid you not. (Cindy, really? Really?) When I first saw an advertisement for her collection (ha!), I got all excited because I think she's a pretty fab supermodel, so I figured that surely she would only associate herself with fabulous shoes. Not so. OK, so the shoes are made of real leather (wow), but the styles are just unacceptable. At 50 Euros a pair or more, which is the equivalent price of a decent pair of Nine West shoes, I expected there to be a lot more going on.
During a recent trip to Bern, I had my eye on a couple of different pairs of shoes in the 150 CHF - 220 CHF price range. Isaiah was ready to buy me a pair for my birthday, but I just couldn't allow him to do it. Me and shoe shopping in Switzerland will never do well together because I don't do RETAIL and Switzerland doesn't do DISCOUNT. Well, at least not the way America does it. In the States, if you know where to look, you can buy well-made, stylish shoes that originally retail for $150 but are available at half price. These deals happen all year round, not just during government-mandated sales season. I just couldn't bring myself to buy cute flats for 150 CHF while knowing that back in San Diego I could get two pairs of equally cute shoes for the same amount of money. You see, I've got principles.
Sneakers it is. At least for the next couple of months...