Shoepalooza 2011

Oh, calm down. They’re just shoes.

I know, I know. I said that.

OK, OK, how about ‘it’s just a shoe sale.’

No, that didn’t sound right either.

So about this: Girls, it’s time for the freaking Army & Navy Annual Shoe Blowout.

Panic, drop everything, stand in line, beat each other up and, for God’s sakes, BUY SHOES.

Shoes

No, seriously.

Don’t drop everything. Er … I mean don’t beat each other up.

But this is a great opportunity to stock up on shoes … boots, sandals, flats and heels. The array is lovingly (I use the term loosely) stocked on the shelves of the Calgary Army & Navy, tucked away in the northeast at 1107 33 St.

Oh, you shudder. Stop it. I live in the northeast. I love it here.

I did my first Shoe Blowout last year. And I learned a few things.

Since I’m destined for Spokane for nine days on Friday, I’ll be missing the first five days of Shoepalooza 2011. Yes, that means I’m leaving the ripe pickings for the rest of you but it’s OK, considering I will have a DSW, a Famous Footwear and a Nordstrom Rack at my disposal.

I figured, however, I would leave you with a few tips. First, we’ll look at your overall approach to Shoepalooza, where it looks like you’ll be feasting on Steve Madden, Guess, Naughty Monkey, Calvin Klein, BCBG and more.

Take my ‘don’t panic’ advice seriously. As much as you want, there’s no need to break your neck to get there for door opening at 8 a.m. on April 28.

You want to think the stock is limited. That you’re getting the cream of the crop by being their first.

You’re not.

Tip No. 1: The Shoe Blowout lasts for, I think, a week. Even with up to 80 per cent off on designer labels, Army & Navy receives enough shoes to stock the shelves for the duration of the sale.

Tip No. 2 and more important than any tip I could possibly give you: Army & Navy starts restocking the shelves in the early evening, about an hour or so before closing at 9 p.m. every night (well, 6 p.m. from Saturday to Tuesday). If you go just before closing, you get the benefit of being there first thing in the morning, without dealing with all the crazy bitches who think they have to be there first.

I scored five pairs of babies — including two pairs of Naughty Monkeys, my favourite brand — on the opening morning of Shoepalooza 2010 but on my way out, the camping gear caught my eye. I made a mental note to return on payday, two days later, to pick up a few things for the summer. While there, I meandered upstairs to the shoe section and discovered the heaven of the restocked shelves (and one very weary Army & Navy employee who could barely form the words ‘we’re closing soon.’)

Tip No. 3: Army & Navy actually keeps awesome shoes or mid- to high-level brands and designers at reasonable prices throughout the year. If you miss Shoepalooza, you can still catch a bargain on Diesel, Buffalo and Rocket Dog the other 51 weeks of the year.

Now, should you choose to brave opening morning … or any of the other door-opening mornings, here are a few more tips.

1. Book the morning off from work. It takes time to find and try on 10 awesome pairs of shoes. Your boss will understand. I swear it.
2. Grab a basket. This is a far better plan than juggling six pairs in your arms while trying to Tweet about the awesome shoes you just grabbed out of the mitts of some leopard-spandex sporting cougar.
3. Skirt the room, eyeing it for the exact location of the crazies and where you can dominate the more vulnerable, less suspecting and possible Shoepalooze newbies.
4. Map out a game plan. Maybe you want to check out the back aisle first, the boots or the sandals … keep an eye out for espadrilles, they’re a hot-ticket item this summer.
5. Walk slowly, scanning your eyes on each side of the aisle at the same time (it helps to be cross-eyed).
6. Walk purposefully. You don’t want anyone to think they can snag a pair of those Naughty Monkeys out of your basket.
7. Explore the entire inventory, filling your basket if necessary, and then find a spot to squat and try on your discoveries.
8. Consider a purchase carefully if you see someone your mother’s age trying on a pair of shoes you’ve selected. I rejected a pair of Diesel cage heels last year for this very reason. Gah!
9. Ensure you are doubly positive about your rejects before you set them on the floor. There are others waiting for your castoffs … sometimes salivating.
10. On your way to the cash register, check out the camping gear. Seriously.

And, if all else fails, remember the Gordie Howe game plan.

Elbows up.

Happy shopping!

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