Time was when buying a pair of shoes was a delicious experience. A clerk in a shoe shop could expect to be treated as a respectable white-collar worker, an expert consultant, and an authority on quality. My childhood memories of being taken to buy shoes – walls lined to the ceiling with boxes, ladders on slides, metallic foot measures, shoe horns and the intoxicating smell of fresh leather – might as well be from the Edwardian period, and I cherish them. I’m not sure what happened to that kind of shoe shop, but it disappeared at some point in the 1980s and was replaced by something entirely tasteless, the quality and the knowledgeable salesman with it.
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