Newest Review: ... and womens shoes being unisex, and coming in good sizes. I especially like this because it means that theres a wider choice for me, as I... more
Author Name: nathaninnit
Advantages: Like a kid in a candystore
Disadvantages: Slightly pricey, but expected
CAN THEY KICK IT?
Rarely does anyone write a review to tell everyone about what a great service they have received on their way round the high street, rather we are usually fed reviews from furious consumers who are stunned by their gas prices and bad customer services teams. After my recent encounters with 'Footlocker', I feel they are deserving of nothing less than a shining review to express exactly how pleased I have been with their service.
Still emerging and establishing itself as a clothing-force in Europe, the brand has long since demanded the attention of the American audience. with its head quarters being located in New York City. 'Footlocker' has also leant itself out to the Canadian and Australian market place, to name just two. I was shocked to discover that 'Footlocker' is actually a product of the 'Woolworth' family, and with its brand dying out to eventually be overthrown by 'Wal-Mart' in the States, they took an agressive outlook towards athletic apparel to create stores with trendy sport clothes similar to that of JD Sports.
Kinney Shoe Corp. opened its doors in 1963 and under various different names rode its luck until 1989 where a vision for the company was established, this would target enclosed shopping malls. The strategy allowed the company to replace its stores with new stores under a different title, aiming to drum up fresh interest. This would ultimately fail as they never developed any specialty stores for any of America's key shopping malls.
Woolworth's were out on their arse in the 'States, and this is representative of its steady decline in the UK market place as well. On the other hand, the US saw a growth in the casual footwear market as opposed to traditional shoe retailers. With the new millennium, 'Footlocker' would become the founders top performing outlet after striking a deal worth more than $350 million. With an established fanbase, 'Footlocker' could then go about designing itself including touches such as having employee uniforms resembling referee shirts.
YES THEY CAN
With its own distinctive look and exclusive clothing, Footlocker was able to establish instelf as one of the most classy sports clothing stores going, despite the aforementioned referee outfits. The brands logo signifies this staffing gimmick with a stern looking referee placing his hands on his hips, all he's lacking is blowing the whistle on shoplifters. My first and only experience instore with Footlocker would come a month back as I ventured on a shopping trip to Bluewater Shopping Centre purposefully knowing Footlocker had a store on the premises. It was certainly worth the car journey...
Building up the anticipation for the store visit was exciting, and it wouldn't be far past all the other big-name designer shops (Lacoste, Fred Perry) that we would come across the shop selling clothes of similar appeal at a lower cost. Located straight opposite was a First Sport store, which is basically a JD Sports, and whilst this was useful so that you could journey across from the shops back and forth -- we ended up doing this all day. Unfortunately, after searching for a large JD's all my life I finally found one that dwarfed the size of Footlocker.
Footlocker was a very narrow experience, with the space working you down towards the checkout desk. Unlike some stores it was not cluttered and gave off the impression that they did not really need your business, and was a matter of buy if you want to. Whilst there were some incredibly nice clothes, the choice was slightly limited, and was almost like the London boutique of sports clothing. Trainers lined the sides of the shop, which Footlocker prides it on, but unfortunately the unique designs did little to pursuade me I need new trainers there and then. The long black benches were reminiscent of a locker room though.
A large selection of caps were avaliable, and unlike shops such as Sports World, the cap selection was actually enjoyable to look at. When you're seeing clothes in a shop that you never seen before, it's incredibly pleasing on the eye.
The staff worked exactly how they should do in a clothes store, and rather than disturbing you were only there when you needed them. I say that loosely as on a Saturday morning they seemed more worse for wear and rather discussing what they were going to do that night. I also heard them rambling about the celebrities they get instore, such as grime artist Kano.
Whilst I did not use the locker room space, there was a mirror right outside them that I checked myself out in numerous times. Just like many shops these days, they like to apply an 'ask to use the changing rooms' policy, but don't actively persue this. With a choice of jackets, our journey around Bluewater continued before actually going back to make the eventual purchase. I don't know why I let my walk around the centre be disturbed by the worry of low stock, as there was no indication of this, and my experience in other high class shops were probably damaged by my Footlocker obsession/distraction.
YOU JUST STEPPED ON MY JAY'S
As my visits to Footlocker mean travelling, there is no one around my area that has the latest line of Footlocker casual sportswear, and this is further compounded by the fact that Footlocker do not operate a shopping online service. Right now you're either probably thinking; "What, they don't sell online?!" or "What, does he live in a hole!?"
In this day and age, you expect shops to be everywhere, but Footlocker must operate a less is more approach -- this is based on everything I know so far and the fact that their rent on their Bluewater store is probably one of the lowest in the whole centre. Without going into too much detail about the whole website, because they could really be another review, I'll explain what led me to even search for Footlocker online. First came me looking for a Footlocker store to visit in the UK, and from a section on the website I was able to choose from my European country and select from a list of cities where travel information was also avaliable.
Then came my horror when I realised I had bought a t-shirt that was just too big for me. It was a strange moment as I never get the wrong size, but obviously this particular tee went on oversized American basketball players medium size. I couldn't see the use in keeping a t-shirt and wearing it when it was to big for me, and shrinking it in the washing machine seemed like a bit of a risky option to use. Pawning it off on eBay crossed my mind, followed by hoping to find a friend that is a regular up Bluewater (or any Footlocker store). When all else fails, it's time to use the 'contact us' function on the official website.
I wrote in my e-mail about how I was such a happy customer, but really would love an exchange or my money back. I even recommended they open a store in Cambridge to benefit me and the people like myself. After a bit of a wait, I got an e-mail back apologising for the delay due to the high volume of queries they've had (my foot) but in better news - they surprised me by saying they were able to exchange my t-shirt for the right size if I was willing to post it off to them and the address my customer service advisor worked at.
My comment of bringing Footlocker to Cambridge was even greeted with a "we always take on board suggestions from our customers". How default. I got my t-shirt sent off and was happy to lose the couple pounds postage in exchange for the right size, but was expecting it would take about a month. To my surprise about a week later, I had my t-shirt back in the right size with a 'sincere apology' letter.. funny thing is, buying the wrong size was my fault in the first place. The constantly apologising did make me slightly uncomfortable and didn't feel sincere, but I was happy to keep taking it off them as they appeared to really care for their customers. Either that or they don't understand what their customers are saying.
LOCKED UP, WON'T LET ME OUT
In conclusion, there is no reason why Footlocker should not be able to grow to a level where they can do whatever they want. They could be at that stage already and I'm just in my own little bubble due to not having a local store, but until I do have a local store I will not feel they have the UK domination of many other rival brands. A regulary updated website showing off their lines of Adidas, Nike, Puma, etc. clothing is a step in the right direction -- there is nothing worse than a company that has an unchanged website.
I do not feel Footlocker have the domination with their trainers that they think they have by the title of their store, but the overall picture is that Footlocker's clothing line is much better than any other shop out there. The only place it lets itself down is slightly on the fact their range on show wasn't that extensive when I visited in Spring. Whilst the staff were struggling through the day instore and not looking bothered if you robbed the place, the staff on the website were over-the-top but incredibly helpful. I guess there's a happy medium in there somewhere. Everything about my experiences with Footlocker have been enjoyable though, and the brand only lucks out when they don't fill my car up for my visits.
Summary: Now to get the trainers I want...