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Back-to-School Shoe Shopping: The Shoes Make the Kid

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When my son started attending an elementary school that requires uniforms I thought I was off the hook for back to school shopping. Then I learned that shoes were a free-for-all. Apart from anything wildly distracting, kids can wear whatever closed-toe footwear they desire.

My son never cared what he put on his feet until his school shoes became an expression of his individuality. So it was a mother’s dream come true when my son actually begged to go shoe shopping.

Suddenly my seven-year-old was naming brands, like Nike, Sketchers, Adidas and Vans. While I do not buy brands for status sake, I had to agree with my son that the better brands were, well, better. They last longer, which is important for kids who are hard on shoes.

We tried discount stores like Ross and Marshalls, but their selection was lacking, and there were no salespeople to be found. Sadly the Nordstrom kids shoe department at the Grove is gone, and the discount shoe warehouse on La Cienega closed too, so we ended up at the new in Ridgecrest Famous Footwear store, which was actually better than all of the usual go-to places I had shopped for kids shoes.

The selection was great, if not a little overwhelming for a kid. He identified features like liked -- the trim, cool colors, leather versus plastic, and laces versus Velcro. He was particular about padding, and the flare of the sole and the shape of the toe box. He even flexed the shoes to make sure they were not too stiff for comfort.

We looked at many styles, but he still could not decide. So we got his measurement from a nice sales associate and went home to shop some more online.

We found the store’s web-only deals, which was like finding the golden Easter egg. Also, the site let us narrow our selection by size, width, color and price. Finally he chose two pairs to put in our cart, and we joined the Famous Footwear Rewards program for an instant 20 percent off our purchase, plus we got the second pair for 50 percent thanks to the Buy-One-Get-One half-off promotion. My son also downloaded the store app on my iPhone to get points toward more shoes.

We ended up with a pair of black Vans Atwood Vs, which my son insists are a must-have for afterschool skateboarding, black Adidas high tops, and Nike’s Kid’s Flex Trainers, in black (I detect a trend).

Since we got the new shoes, I have had no trouble getting him dressed and ready for school, socks and shoes included. He says his new shoes make him bounce higher and run faster, and no other kid in class has his exact shoes. It is true, when I look for him on the school yard among the sea of uniformed kids, I can easily pick him out from a distance by his very cool shoes, and of course the spring in his step.

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