Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shoes, boys, and a tattoo

Contrary to popular belief, the life of a college student is really not that interesting, especially for college students who aren't living any sort of "sex, drugs, and rock n roll" lifestyle. In my free time, I read, I go on picnics, I go thrift store shopping in midtown Sacramento, and eat a lot of sushi. Needless to say, there really isn't MUCH to say about most of that.

However, my NON-free time is spent entirely at a store called Vans.

Now, I know that most of the people who read this blog are from Utah, and to be honest, I haven't the slightest idea if there are any Vans locations there, so you may not even be sure what exactly "Vans" are. First of all, they're shoes.

Our most popular style:

(Vans "Authentics")

Now, like I said, I don't know about Utah, but in California, especially in my town, everyone and their mother wears Vans. Before getting the job there, I'd never been a particularly huge fan of their shoes; I'm not one for sneakers. I've always been a classy ballet flat kind of girl, though lately I've become a TOMS girl:

(For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, a pair is given to a child in need.)

(Check out: if that's something that interests you. But I don't work for TOMS, and this blog is supposed to be about Vans, so-)

Anywho, basically everyone around here between the ages of 5 and 25 wears Vans, which means that, despite the current economic situation, business is BOOMing at work. I spend my days running back and forth, climbing up stock room shelves (they aren't very accomodating for those of us who inherited our mother's short genes), and on particularly busy days, literally not having room to BREATHE on the sale room floor.

But I LOVE my job. Genuinely adore the people I work with, the environment, the fast pace. It's busy, it's exciting, it's fun.

However, a few pet peeves: customers who interrupt OTHER customers. I'll be helping a person with shoes, answering their questions, and another person will walk up as if they don't see or don't care about the customer I'm helping and bark at me, "Size 8!" I generally wish I could turn to them and say, "...and your point is?" (But we've all learned to save our anger for the backroom, where we can freely rant about the customers. Consider your own shopping habits; do you think there's anyone angrily cursing about you when they walk away? Food for thought.) Then there are the customers who think you've got magic memory. "Hi, yes, I'd like to have this shoe, this shoe, and this shoe in size 7 in men's, and this shoe and this shoe in a size 7.5 in women's, and then this shoe and this shoe if you don't have that shoe and that shoe." Now, keep in mind, for every pair of shoes for every customer, you have to remember, not just the size, but the style and color. And we aren't talking Crayola crayon colors; if you see a purple shoe? Yah, that color is called "Liberty". Brown? "Espresso". Green? Possibly "Poison Green" or "Leprachaun". Navy blue? "Peacoat". And so on.

But you get used to it.

As I was saying before, though, I was never really a huge fan of Vans before I started working there. So why did I want to get a job there you ask? The answer is a little bit embarassing, but basically...the boys.

As long as I can remember, during my trips to the mall, I would make a stop at the Vans store, and nearly every single guy on the staff was unbelievably attractive. So, after my "high school sweetheart" dumped me a month after graduation, and my summer job at Golfland was becoming unbearable, I thought one day, "Hey, I probably won't get the job, but I might as well apply." And, lo and behold, I did!

But what they don't tell you in the interview is that, in addition to being very very cute, all of the men of Vans are taken.

A friend of mine used this analogy: Imagine that you are a chocoholic (maybe you don't have to imagine, most people are) and you find yourself presented with the opportunity to work at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! You're so excited you might burst! and you run into work on your first day, ready to dive into the chocolate river, and to your heartbroken dismay, you discover you've developed a sudden allergy to chocolate.

(Though, it would be more accurate to say that this chocolate is now allergic to you.)

I really don't mind it now, though. The guys are all my buddies now, who I can laugh and joke and hang out with, which really is much more fun and less complicated than if they were all "prospects" instead. (Plus, having good looking guy friends means that you get to...y'know...look at good looking guys all the time, no problem!)

I must pause now, though. Reading back, I realize this is making me sound significantly more "boy crazy" than I am, mostly because I equated my interest in them to a chocolate addiction. For the record, I very much enjoy being single, and the freedom to spend my time outside of work as I please. I just don't think there's anything wrong with positioning one's self in such a way as to make one available, in case, y'know, someone worthwhile actually happens to come along.

But I digress.
Anyway, one other prevalent part of the culture here: tattoos. And I'd say, working in retail, the one store where this is most visible is definitely Vans. Now, this isn't a blog about tattoos, or what your opinion of tattoos might be, but since I am talking about Vans, I thought I'd show a picture of one of my managers and I at work:

I'll leave it up to you to guess: coincidental resemblance to his tattoo? or did he decide to commemorate his favorite employee?


Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

Beloved daughter: a few items you conveniently forgot to mention. 1) you not only work at VANS you shop at VANS. In fact you give a significant portion of your paycheck back to the company by buying the same shoes you sell and my garage is now pile high with a million pairs of VANS shoes. 2) You did date one of the cute boys you worked with at VANS then dumped him after a few months and finding out cute boys are not all that :-) 3) You do not have a tattoo and will not have a tattoo if you ever want me to pay for your wedding. Okay, I'm kidding. Sort of :-) 3) And please please tell people who know me that your nose ring visible in that picture is now history and can be chalked up to temporary insanity:-)
Other than that I love this post and I love you!!!!!

Lilian said...

I know what Vans are. I don't know if/where there is a store in Utah. It wouldn't surprise me if there is. However, I hardly shop for shoes EVER. ZMaybe I'll havce to check these shoes out?

Also, just remember that most cute guys know other cute guys they can introduce you to. But if they have tatoos??? Nah.... not cute. At least nose rings can be removed!

taramarsden said...


Addressing item 1 on your list: I do, in fact, own plenty of Vans, but I do not EVER wear them outside of work. I just figure, since I spend so much time there, I might as well look good ;] (And I get a 50% discount...c'mon.)

Bea said...

OK trust Granma, we don't have a Vans store in Utah, but their product is available all over the place. Including JCP in Layton Hills. and Sports Authority in BOUNTIFUL!!!!! I will have to check out the product and the TALENT.

Lesley said...

I love your writng Tara.

I'm sure that all the cute boys girlfriends are very worried when they come into Vans and see the cute you that their boyfriends are working with (that was an awfully long sentence, hope it made sense).

I think that you should get more than 50% off after the great advertising you just did for them on your blog.

Adam and Melissa said...

My sister in Law in central valley loves vans. I've never owned a pair myself. My bohemian English teacher was frankly appalled when the beloved 80s apparel had a comeback killing his rock star individualism. I don't have any pairs, they don't seem very comfortable...are they?

Margie said...

I have never owned Van's but people I know and love have, and they love them. Megan is a shoe person, and I am becoming more of a shoe person, but they do have to be comfortable.

You are a very good writer!! I enjoyed your title too. I must admit, I had to LOL when I saw the tattoo. I'm thinking it might be a picture of his favority employee.

taramarsden said...

To those curious about whether or not they're comfortable- it totally depends on the style.

The first pair of Vans I ever bought (and only pair I bought before working there) were my shoes for my trip to England this summer, and I did all my tourist-ing in them, no problem!

But the biggest complaint about Vans is their lack of arch support, so if that's necessary to your comfort, then Vans aren't the way to go.

Jeff said...

There is a Vans store at the Park City outlets. Tara we would love for you to transfer here.

BobN said...

For us Utahns not so lucky as to have an actual Vans store around, a few styles are available at places like Famous Footwear and some skate shops.

treds said...

Well I can add some information about vans shoes, I love these shoes, Vans started to create shoes for a number of sports from skateboarding, wakeboarding, motor cross, to surfing in an effort to compete with large athletic shoe companies.