A Trip to the Shoe Guy: House Slipper Edition

Y’all remember last summer when I met the Shoe Guy and he literally changed the life of my feet? And kind of my confidence in gardening?

Well, Mickey finally got to experience the magic for himself.

With all things I love, my tummy was nervous about this prospect. See, my brain does this dumb thing where it forgets that the things I love are good and tries to convince me not to share things with people because they won’t understand why I love it. My brain does this with movies, shows, food, experiences, all of it. It is always a relief when an experience lives up to my brain’s expectations.

Mugly’s nails this every single time. (Mugly’s is a restaurant attached to a pink Best Western that I bring everyone who visits me.)

But sometimes outside circumstances make the experiences different, or lesser, than I remember – a good example of this is The Heidelberg Project. I love it, I love going there, and I love sharing it with other people. Tyree Guyton is there most times and sometimes he is in a creating mood and others he is in a talking mood. If he’s creating, he can be kind of standoffish, so my experiences sharing this lovely spot with others has been varied.

Of course, I ain’t mad at it. I understand being in the middle of creation and not able to get out of your own head enough to talk about it. I am just sad that the person I am with didn’t get the full magic. It’s like I can feel their letdown, even though they had no idea what they should even expect. I know this is something I need to work on with my brain and I am.

The Shoe Guy Experience

So, I was worried the Shoe Guy experience wouldn’t be the same as it was for me before. It wasn’t planned, because I have learned not to try to force magical things to happen. When the time is right it will happen naturally.

Like it did on Wednesday, when we were driving through Allen Park on the back road and we passed the Shoe Guy and I said aloud, “he doesn’t have his tomatoes out yet!” and Mickey asked, “Is he open?”

My head snapped around and I said, “I think so” and then Mickey pulled a U-ey and we pulled into a space right out front.

Artist John Vassallo

As we pulled in, we saw the Shoe Guy outside, talking to another customer outside the store. He asked if we were coming inside and we said yes and followed him in.

Then he asked me if I had been in before, to which I happily said, “Yes, you sold me insoles and changed my life”. He then asked my last name and pulled my index card out of his card catalogue and started surveying it. He asked Mickey his name and then added it to the card.

While this was happening, the people he was speaking to outside came in. It was a grandmother and granddaughter, there for some new kicks. They were both adorable and I would love a full size coat to match the furry pink one the granddaughter was wearing.

When you’re shopping with the Shoe Guy, it’s a community affair, but not in a way that feels awkward for anyone involved. We were looking for house slippers and the grands were looking for some sneaks and the Shoe Guy seamlessly wheeled his stool between the two groups, keeping up a steady stream of (interesting) chatter the whole time.

We learned the granddaughter’s name and Mickey was able to share a story about someone he met with the same name who succeeded at the same thing her namesake failed at. It was a beautiful moment.

And then it came to the shoe fitting. Ever the professional, the Shoe Guy measured both of my feet again, even though he had my size written down on his card. Then he asked Mickey and I some questions about our relationship and names to determine whether or not to make Mickey his own card or just add him to mine.

Mickey got his own card, plus a healthy dose of curiosity about the origin of his real last name. I think that’s one of the things I like most about the Shoe Guy. He’s a great storyteller who loves telling stories about himself, and that is also balanced with a healthy dose of curiosity about the people he is talking to.

In a very authentic way. You don’t feel like he is asking because he’s been taught that it’s polite – he’s genuinely curious and interested in those around him. That is my favorite sort of human to talk to.

He brought out three options for Mickey and three options for me. Those were the only house slipper options available. None of them were stylish. Well, one of Mickey’s looked like cool loafer things, but we weren’t going for style. We were there for comfort.

Like I said, getting those insoles from him last summer literally changed my life. My feet were miserable when we were out adventuring and that made the rest of me miserable. Before this big presto chango in comfy shoes, I never gave much credit to the way my physical discomfort affects my mental state.

Not anymore though. I know when I start to feel irritated to check in on my most frequent physical irritations. Is my hair up? Do I have a pony tail holder on my wrist? Am I sitting weird? Are my socks too tight? Is my waistband cutting in to my soft parts? You know, stuff like that.

I tried on three sets of slippers, two black, one pink; two slip ons, one velcro; all three comfortable. Amazingly so. I went with the black velcros, because I liked that I could control the tightness on my feet.

Then it was Mickey’s turn. He had three options. The first one felt luxurious to the touch and when he slipped his foot into them, he looked over at me with a smiled that I completely understood and said, “I get it.” Then he tried on the second pair and it didn’t hit as well as the first pair. Then he tried the third pair, which was the somewhat stylish loafer that I mentioned previously, and they were comfortable, but not quite as comfortable as the first pair.

”The problem with these,” he said, “is that I’d want to wear them out in public.”

Comfort won out over style and he got the ones that made him smile the biggest.

I’m selfishly kind of glad, because mine are definitely more comfortable than they are stylish.

One of the things I love best about shopping at specialty stores like this is (and this is gonna sound weird) the lack of choice. The Shoe Guy is the expert and he’s worked with these people for literal decades. He knows who makes a good product that lasts.

In fact, I googled the companies that made both my and Mickey’s shoes because I was curious about their history and what not. The company that makes Mickey’s slip slips doesn’t even have a website. They do have a bangin’ retro logo, though.

He’s not in the business of having people replace shoes over and over and over again. That’s not how he keeps his customers coming back. He sells them a quality product that he believes in.

It’s lovely and amazing to see someone so truly passionate about what they do. I’m so glad Mickey got the experience the magic and is now walking around on the clouds with me.

I’m looking forward to going back for another tomato plant in the spring!


  1. woozxyl

    I am glad Mickey got to share your joy of The Shoe Guy!

    • Jacki

      Me too!
      It is an experience, for sure. =D

      Thanks for reading!!!

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