Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Foot Traffic


A recent trip to IKEA produced the kind of pain that could only mean one thing. No, I don’t mean pain in the pocketbook. By the time we had finished meandering many displays and rows of merchandise, I could barely walk.

New shoes. I needed new walking shoes and I wished I had figured that out before I went to IKEA.

A kind reader of this blog and cheerleader for all things Wilde Lake recommended Feet First.  I’d heard of them but had never been there. Weren’t they for athletes? People who ran for fun? 

I wasn’t sure. After all, I’m the person who remarked that I’d have to embark upon serious training before returning to IKEA. I’m hardly an athlete.

But a local connection is not to be sneezed at. Off I went.

It was easy to find parking near the store.

Uh oh. There was that word, “Athletic.” I took a deep breath and went inside. 

The woman behind the counter greeted me as I walked in the door and listened intently as I explained what I was looking for. She measured my feet and asked me if I’d been having any foot pain or lower back issues. She watched me walk,  observing the mechanics of my gait.

I cannot remember the last time I was fitted for shoes by someone who truly knew what they were doing. I’m not sure if what I was feeling was nostalgia or sheer relief. (One of the things I learned was that I’ve been buying the wrong size of shoe. For years.)

Cynthia brought out a stack of boxes. As it turned out, one of the first shoes I tried on was The One. There was one that was an absolute no, and one that was very nearly perfect, but these shoes went on my feet and then became a part of me. It was a magical shoe experience.

I wasn’t alone in these feelings. The other person being fitted while I was there was a gentleman who was happily bouncing about the store extolling the virtues of new shoes. I kid you not. He was delightfully un-selfconscious in his joy.

I remarked that there’s something about the right shoes and a good haircut that can be life changing. And then I bought the shoes. 

They cost more than I usually spend. There’s no question that the cost includes the expertise and the time that went into finding the right shoe for me. There’s also the cost of being a small business operating in a Columbia village center as opposed to being a warehouse store in a strip mall. It’s a tradeoff, and one that I was grateful I could afford to make yesterday. 

Yes, of course I celebrated with an iced coffee from the Wilde Lake Starbucks.

The perfect shoes. I wore them the rest of the day.

It’s true that Feet First sells shoes for runners. But they do a lot more than that. From their website:


Founded in 1979, Feet First Sports is one of Maryland's longest standing run specialty stores.  We take great pride in connecting with our community, offering expert advise with custom footwear fittings, and helping you reach your wellness goals. When you visit us in Columbia, MD we hope you'll feel like you're among friends and family.  See you soon!

As I was weighing whether or not to write a blog post which was, more or less, “My Trip to the Shoe Store,” this post from Columbia Community Care caught my eye.

Thank you to Feet First Sports for the generous donation and all the support! If you are in need of some great athletic shoes or wear, check them out in the Wilde Lake Village Center!

That was the sign I was looking for. Independently owned small businesses can make a significant contribution in their communities through donations, sponsorships and participation in local events. They are often more invested in their immediate communities than larger chain stores. Feet First has long been a sponsor of the Howard County Striders running group, as well us other running-centric events such as The Food Market 10K to benefit the Howard County Hospital.

Small businesses rely on foot traffic and word of mouth. Get your feet over to the Wilde Lake Village Center and see what you think. If you like Feet First, spread the word.

Feet First is located in the Wilde Lake Village Center: 5305 Village Center Drive, Suite 110, Columbia, MD 21044. 

Telephone (410) 992-5800


They’re on Facebook and Instagram

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