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Shoe Shopping Without Eyesight

Nine Ideas To Help You Find Shoes You’ll Love

Brown shoe box with a black patent leather loafer with tassels on top of the boxLast week I went shoe shopping. The timing was perfect. It’s the end of the summer season and I was able to take advantage of sales, markdowns, and bargains.

Shopping when blind means I have to use my remaining senses to experience what I once took for granted. Since I’m no longer able to drive, I’ve resorted to buying shoes online but occasionally a visit to the store is in order.

So, I went to my fallback – having my son drive me to the store. But this time it was different. I was abandoned!

As we drove to the front of the store, he stopped and said, “I’ll be back.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “What do you mean ‘you’ll be back’? Why aren’t you coming in with me?”

He responded, “Mom, you’ll be fine. Remember how you used to love coming here by yourself?”

Sheepishly I said, “Yeah, uh, but that was before, you know (dramatic and almost panicky tone here; scratch that I began whining), I went blind.”

“Mom, I’ve got some running around to do. You’ll be fine.”

Tri collage of me posing in my new shoes. I'm wearing black jeans, black top and a black velvet fringed kimono with red flowers.I begged, threatened, sulked and cried, but my son was unmoved and gone like the wind. So as soon as I got my bearings, I unfolded my white cane and boldly went forth into the store where no blind woman (at least not this one) had gone before and tried to find shoes.

I began the lengthy process of going up and down the long aisles to look at each pair. At first, it was frustrating, but I must admit it felt good. Actually, great. Shopping independence again!

Overall, my experience was a good one. I took pictures of the shoes I tried on and sent them to my friends for opinions. It all worked out. But going forward, if I’m alone again when I shop, I would do some things differently.

Here are nine ideas that may be helpful to you. If you can, shop with a friend who loves shoes and whose judgment you know and trust. But if that’s not possible, know that you certainly can enjoy the freedom of shopping by yourself.

Nine Shoe Finding Tips You’ll Love

  1. Before you go, read about and discuss the latest trends, styles and seasonal colors with friends and family who have similar tastes and interests and try to have some ideas about your preferences before you arrive at the store
  2. Call ahead and tell them you are blind or visually impaired, that you’ll be shopping and may need some assistance
  3. When you enter the store, ask an associate about the layout to make it easier to find your shoes
  4. Use the store’s shopping bag to gather several pairs of shoes to try on in one sitting
  5. Wear a backpack-style or over-the-head strapped purse to keep it on your body and off your mind while trying on shoes
  6. Have personal footies that match your skin tone
  7. Ask the associate if they could take photos of you wearing the shoes you try on
  8. When ringing up, and if it’s not a talking scanner, have the salesperson call out the shoes as they’re scanned – this checks your items one more time before purchasing, and secondly, confirms you’re paying the correct amount; and if available, use a talking barcode scanner
  9. And finally, boldly wear and enjoy your beautiful new shoes!

My eyesight may be gone, but my passion for shoe shopping has been restored.


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