When it comes to fashion, I am told all of my taste is in my mouth. This is especially the case when it comes to purchasing fashion items for my significant other. Mrs Bell is, shall we say, discerning. I am more a grab-and-run type of purchaser; being a typical male, when purchasing for myself I avoid trying things on in store and am adept at applying the "that'll do" approach.
But, as it happens, I have also learned well from previous and sometimes painful experience. To be fair, a man who once purchased a bright-green suit and is colour blind has no business buying clothing or footwear for his partner, unless of course he has help.
And, fortunately, there are some fantastic businesses in Whanganui where the service is such that they remember Mrs Bell and take a caring approach when I walk in the door.
For clothing there is Amla at 55 and Mel at Just Looking, who I actually specifically seek out because I have a 100 per cent success rate where they are involved.
And then there is Footwear. Like many Gen Xers, Mrs Bell was an avid viewer of the adventures of Carrie Bradshaw in a TV show whose name I forget the name (because at the same time I was in another room watching The Wire or The Sopranos) that spent a good deal of time focusing on the shoe fashion – how do I know this? Because after receiving commentary about Carrie's escapades (and some dude called Big?) I would be educated as to what makes a great woman's shoe (and how if I ever purchased these, I needed to know what I was doing – lest I incur scorn and wrath).
So, it is without any hesitation that when coded messages (around birthdays and Christmas) start being left around the house that Mrs Bell needs new footwear, I make a beeline for Footloose in the Avenue. Laureen Tunnell, who also has a discerning eye for fashion, has never put me wrong when it comes to choosing a gift that will suit the tastes and quality standards of Mrs Bell. From boots to casual wear I have 100 per cent success - so there is never any nervousness when wrapping paper is being dispatched.
While Footloose is a franchise, there is a very local feel to the business and an established regular clientele. But the main thing is there are all the latest designs and fashion from here and overseas – meaning when watching TV, Mrs Bell says "nice shoes", I can be sure Laureen and the team will know about it, and probably be able to get them if they are not already in stock.
It is great there are so many entrepreneurs in Whanganui operating boutique businesses that are successful. However, they also serve a customer need in the community. These businesses attract visitors but also provide locals with access to the best products and service. So it is crucial we continue to support them.
Truly, boots are made for walking but as a tip for male readers - when buying a footwear gift or voucher - go and see the team at Footloose because they will make sure the boots you do purchase don't end up walking all over you.