Adidas shoes: willful idiocy

Up until recently, my only knowledge or experience of Adidas was their association with Run-DMC, back in prehistoric times.  But a friend of mine got a job with them a couple of years ago, and he would lend me the employee discount card for the Adidas store.  So naturally I went to get some shoes.  I wear a 9.5E, probably the most common men’s shoe size in America.  I found that the large majority of Adidas shoes are not available in an E width—in fact most of them are only available in a narrower-than-average width, like typical European shoes.  You may say “well, they are a European brand after all”… but isn’t America a large enough customer base to warrant offering sizes that fit us?

It took me almost two hours, trying every non-cleated shoe in the store, to find a single pair of shoes that fit me—and that pair was a size 11!  They weren’t even long in the toe area either, they fit my 9.5E feet perfectly.  What the hell kind of shoe company makes a US 11 shoe that’s a perfect fit for a US 9.5 foot?  What’s even weirder is that the other size-11 shoes they had were too long in the toe, just as you’d expect.  But even they still felt too narrow.  I can even usually fit into a regular-width 9.5 shoe, it’s just not quite as comfy as the E width; however the 9.5’s at Adidas were far too narrow to even squeeze into at all.

I took home the one pair that fit me, pleased to have found a shoe that fit.  They were actually quite comfortable.  However, they had a keyhole-shaped hollow opening in the heels, supposedly for shock absorption, and this hollow space was exactly the right size and shape to pick up and hold several chunks of gravel, the sort of gravel you normally encounter while walking the dog or jogging.  The sole material would hold the gravel pieces wedged in tightly.  I’d pry it out with a stick, and within a dozen yards the heels would be full of gravel again.  This may come as a surprise, but gravel is not great for shock absorption!  It doesn’t feel good to walk with several pieces of gravel under each heel.

After putting up with this gravel idiocy for almost a year, I threw the shoes out, and went back to the Adidas store.  Surprise surprise, they didn’t have ANY shoes that fit!  Not a single shoe to fit the most common, normal men’s foot size in America.  The clerk told me this was something lots of male customers complained about, being unable to find Adidas shoes that fit.  He also said they were expecting a delivery of a wide-fit shoe (one model only) the following week; so I left, and came back a week later.  Sold out!  The one model of E-width shoe they received, sold out completely in just a few days—and they had no plans to re-order more.

Does that sound absurd and unbelievable?  It does to me, too, but it’s 100% true.  Adidas apparently is willing to ignore the complaints and obvious needs of one of the largest consumer bases on Earth, and also willing to ignore the sales reports showing an insistant and immediate movement of goods.  If there was some reason for this willful obstinacy, I’d be very interested to learn of it.  But it seems obvious to me that (a) Adidas should want the largest share of shoe sales in a giant consumer market like the USA, and (b) narrow feet may be common in Germany and Italy, but they are not the world standard, and certainly not in super-sized America.  Nike is more successful here than Adidas.  Nike has shoes that fit a wider range of feet.  Could it be any more clear?

The largest Adidas store in my town has closed down, due to lack of customers.  This store was sharp and modern-looking, and located on a prominent commercial intersection in a largely Black neighborhood—the ideal place to sell Adidas shoes.  They couldn’t even keep a store open there.  I’d like to see Adidas do well… but they are being willfully blind to some of their own self-defeating choices.  I’m certainly not going to suggest that you not buy their products—after all, if the shoe fits, wear it!  But I would hope that someone at the Adidas corporate headquarters sees this post and wakes the hell up.

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