Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is The Tide Turning For Barefooters? REI Stores Set The Example.

A member of The Society for Barefoot Living, John, from the Boston area, just had an amazing victory at REI stores (outdoor recreational supplies). He had been declined service due to being barefoot at an REI store and then sent a letter to the president of the company. It's kind of long, but I wanted to copy his entire report, which is well worth reading:

Hello Everyone,

As some of you may know I sent a letter to the president of REI and within a few weeks got a phone message from the Mountain\Eastern territory Retail Director.

I have called the director back several times over the last couple of weeks (leaving messages) and also sent her two emails. As of yesterday morning I had heard nothing and just hoped that she was busy.

Well, at around lunchtime, she called me back. She apologized, saying that she was on a trip. I'll need to paraphrase most of this because I can only remember her exact words in a few places. My head is still spinning.

First she apologized for my treatment in the store. I thanked her and assured her that I was not upset, just disappointed since I really like the store. I also assured her that the store manager was polite and professional with me at all times. Then she said, "You really got us all thinking here". and continued to explain that they are aware of the barefoot running and hiking movements and they know some people go barefoot for health reasons. OK, so far so good.

The director said that she asked store managers how many barefoot customers they see come through the stores. Sure enough, some managers reported barefoot customers. The store with the most barefooters seemed to be one in Colorado, right in the same state as her office.

She then said that they looked through the company policies and, although many in upper management THOUGHT bare feet would be excluded from the stores, they found no such statement. She called it a "phantom policy which only existed people's minds".

She said the next worry they addressed was, "You know, we sell food... and you've got the whole health code thing". I asked her what they found. She said, "Well, we found that there are no health codes out there that would stop a customer with bare feet". Wow, this was starting to sound pretty good. Maybe they found that info on our site :)

She said that next they considered liability issues. She said that just like "our phantom dress policy", which so many people thought existed, "we had people worrying about phantom injuries, things people thought could happen but really probably wouldn't".

I would guess the ice axe fits this category pretty well :)

She said they sorted out the things that really could happen and little by little realized that the stores were actually pretty safe. She said they researched old records looking for customer injuries as related to what might happen to a bare foot. They found one real injury in the records. Someone stepped on an inventory control pin and put it into their foot. And, she said, "that guy was wearing flip flops... and he still got stuck". She said the store personnel already know to keep them off the floor.

[Note: Inventory control pins are those plastic mushroom heads with a sharp nail about an inch long sticking out. They stick through garments and lock into the electronic alarm tags. I HAVE seen them on the floor in stores, pin facing up, but it's not too common. They are a bad design. We know why the guy got stuck. he was wearing sh@@s, was careless, and couldn't feel the pin until it was too late.]

The lady then said that they reached the conclusion that it is not necessary to prohibit barefoot shoppers and that they notified the managers of the stores, telling them to instruct the workers as such. Wow, I still can't believe this...

The lady said, "We want you back as a customer and you are welcome to shop barefoot".

She then asked that I stop by the counter and ask for the manager on my next visit to the store. If it's not the same guy, she wants me to introduce myself and tell him that I'm a barefooter. She wants the managers to get to know me. The manager that I already met should be expecting me and the staff should have already been instructed. She said, "You won't have any more trouble.”

And THAT, my friends, is how it should be. If there is an REI near you, Go There! And Go Barefoot!

Barefoot Running Movie From RunBare

Almost everyone in the barefoot running community has heard of Michael Sandler. He has shared his inspiring story with us through his book, Barefoot Running (published by his company RunBare) and his whirlwind running clinic tours over the past few years. Today, Michael and Jessica released a trailer for their upcoming movie on barefoot running. That’s right. Barefoot Running, the movie.

To be clear, this is not a movie for the cinema. It is not a documentary of the barefooting movement (we’re still waiting for that). It is primarily an instructional “how-to” film, though Michael and Jessica do spend quite some time simply celebrating barefoot freedom.

Several barefoot running enthusiasts have already produced short video clips, both humorous and instructional, but what RunBare has coming out this Fall is on a whole new level. Their DVD is a full-length, professional quality film, as entertaining as it is educational. I have had the pleasure of previewing several chapters and the quality of the film is spectacular. It is exactly as they describe: “Seventy minutes, 17 chapters filled with amazing running, scenery, and entertaining lessons about barefoot running.” The film is stunning for no other reason than the running footage through the breathtaking Maui scenery and the National Geographic quality music. Seriously, the folks at RunBare have outdone themselves with this one!

Catch the trailer here, and then be sure to get the full-length film in August.