Despite my occasional posts on running and running shoes, I didn’t know much about China’s retail running shoe market until finding myself in Shenzhen last week only to discover I had left my running shoes at home.
Next week I’ll post a few more substantial blogs on the HPC market in China, but for weekend reading I thought I would share my tips should you find yourself in a similar situation. Unfortunately I wasn’t staying in a Westin hotel. The Westin Workout program that loans hotel guests a set of New Balance workout cloths and running shoes would have sure come in handy. Luckily, one of our local solution architects, Jack L., read my bad packing tweet and offered to come take me shopping.
There was a new Western-style shopping mall within a few minutes taxi ride of my hotel, filled with brand-name stores, supposedly including a New Balance store. In fact, one of the concierges at the mall entrance waved us down one of the many halls and indicated the way. Alas, we passed several brand name shoe stores but no New Balance. We even stopped to look at one of those little mall directory signs and no New Balance store to be found, in any language. So back to the first brand name store by the mall entrance. Now this particular brand is no new-comer to running shoes, but most of the shoes in the store were decidedly not for athletes (not that I consider myself much of an athlete) or runners but more for the fashion conscious. I did find a pair of what might pass like half-decent running shoes, at nearly a 100% mark-up to US retail prices. Pass. While I was looking, Jack talked to one of the store employees who directed us to another brand name shoe store on the second floor of the mall.
Alas, not much better luck here. Doesn’t anyone in China buy running shoes in a mall? Running barefoot for a week crossed my mind, but better judgement prevailed and I picked out a pair of overpriced shoes that perhaps might just get me through the week without doing major damage to my knees and proceeded to the cashier. Next challenge. Visa not accepted. Just to be fair, they didn’t take MasterCard or American Express either. But with some translation from Jack they offered to escort me to the other end of the mall to a cashier station where I could pay with Visa. So off we went.
As we walked around the corner, what did I see:
Apparently the directory signs in this particular mall only show you the stores on the current floor. So our stop at the first floor directory had shown no sign of the New Balance store. I let Jack break the news to the clerk from the other over-priced brand name store that I wasn’t going to buy their shoes. At this point to my surprise, not only did the store carry my favorite NB 890v4, they had them in my size!
And while readers of my blog know I’m biased to New Balance, kudos to them for their global pricing strategy. The list price, converted to dollars, was almost exactly the same as the list price at my usual source, RoadRunner Sports. Not getting the 10% RoadRunner VIP program discount was a fair penalty to pay for my bad packing.
Next week I’ll be back with some more substantial posts sharing my perspectives on the HPC market in China. You won’t want to miss it.