I’m really hoping I’ve got everything ready for school now. Compared with last year when everything was new and needed buying, I’m fairly relaxed this time. I’ve got 1 new polo shirt and 1 new jumper to replace old scrappy ones from last year, and N’s got new school trousers and shorts sorted out. But for school shoes and trainers we were sent off to review Brantano.
Brantano is generally somewhere I’ve gone for N’s trainers and wellies, but not school shoes. Last year we used our local independent shoe shop, but it’s now closed so we need to find somewhere reliable with a choice of shoes, and where they fit shoes properly. Hopefully Brantano would fit the mark with school shoes as well.
I always thought that Brantano was about getting the feet measured, and then you were left to your own accord to find the shoes you wanted and check they fitted yourself. But what I’ve found on our review visit and our visit before that, was different to my expectations. Yes, they measure feet, but they will also help as much as you want or need in ensuring you find the right shoes and that they fit.
Now N’s a bit older, he’s a pro at getting his feet measured, knowing how to stand and when to turn the foot out. Brantano staff chat to your child to make them feel at home. He was asked his name (I loved the way he looked at me to check – as if he didn’t know his own name!) and then what shoes we were looking for. And while they’re measuring they told N what size he was on each foot, as well as writing down all the details. One thing that’s really handy apart from getting the foot sizes written down, is the suggested next measuring date. N’s feet grow really slowly – at the start of last summer he was a size 10, and this year he’s just about made it to an 11, so it works out quite cheap for us (apart from the scuffing destruction of shoes).
Then it was over to the shoes. Now I have to admit, I’m not a fan of Clarks shoes, and I was worried about finding school shoes that were Clarks. I also dislike faddy shoes – no pictures, no light up bits, no knick knacks. Just plain black school shoes that fit nicely.
We found about 3 pairs of Clarks shoes to try, and another unfamiliar make. Then I also spotted the one pair of Hush Puppies. I know Hush Puppies fit N’s feet well, so I was optimistic that one pair at least would fit. Of course, choosing shoes with a 5 year old is never easy. Because mine always says shoes are uncomfortable, even if they seem to fit well. He’s not able to detach himself from the fact that he walked in to the shop in comfy trainers.
A few shoes tried on, a patient Brantano staff member, and some walks and stomps around the store and we had a winner with the Hush Puppies.
Then onto trainers. We really struggle with trainers because Nike ones are really narrow, so many styles sold for these sizes are character based (I mean who really wants Paw Patrol, Minions or Spiderman all over their shoes?!), and quite often we find the velcro doesn’t go far enough to keep them done up securely. When it’s school shoe season in Brantano I also find there seems a lot less choice in trainers. We did find a couple of options that weren’t too garish and that would be suitable for actually doing sport in. N already has a pair suitable for football and general play, but we wanted some that are better for playing tennis in.
Luckily these were easier to fit, and N was happy with the colour available. Unbelievably even though he’s just into a size 11, he needed size 12 for trainers. They were a little big over the top so we were able to try an innersole and they worked well.
So a happy little boy with his new shoes and a happy mum that it was a hassle free quick visit with the friendly help we needed to find shoes that fitted. With 2 weeks before school starting again and on a Saturday, I was expecting the shop to be really busy, but it wasn’t too bad. We didn’t need to wait to be served, and the queues for the tills were going down quickly. Nothing like in Clarks where it always seems to be chaos during the summer holidays.
So if you want to try somewhere different for shoes for any of the family, it’s worth checking out Brantano as an alternative to the high street.
Disclosure: We received 2 pairs of shoes as part of our review trip. All words and opinions are my own.