Friday, September 17, 2010

One Size Fits All

(PICTURE: Shoe street in the Old Quarter.)

I don't exactly have wedding quality dress shoes here in Vietnam. I've basically been wearing the same black loafers since I bought them in 2000. Yes, ten years ago. The shoes are still in great shape since I never had to get dressed up for work in LA and I only wear them occasionally to teach in Hanoi. With the wedding coming up, I've got three options:
1. Wear the shoes I already have.
2. Buy new shoes.
3. Have my mom bring my nicer pair of dress shoes from NJ.

At first I thought I would go with option three. However, I don't really want my parents lugging shoes halfway around the world especially since it means bringing more things back with me when Huyen and I eventually go to America. Crossing off the third option, I started to look for new shoes in Hanoi.

Hanoi has no shortage of nice shoe stores. In fact, besides dress shoe street, there are probably at least a hundred other shoe shops and street vendors selling nice looking shoes. The problem is that my feet are too big, even though by American standards I don't really have big feet. I'm a sign 10.5 in America and generally wear "wide" dress shoes. This presents two issues:
A) Vietnamese don't have wide feet
B) The largest pair of Vietnamese dress shoes I can find are probably around a size 9.

In theory I could squeeze into a pair of these shoes but I think I'd rather wear my old trustworthy shoes and be comfortable rather than end my wedding day with a wife and a set of blisters.

This is all a long winded way of pointing out something I've been thinking about recently: In America, stores have to stock a wide variety of sizes to fit all potential customers. Here, stores only need to carry a small range of sizes to fit 99% of their customers.