Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Barefoot celebrities talk of changing rules on shoeless shopping

Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee Sandler rarely wear shoes, and they recently spoke about how they helped change some rules on shopping barefoot. By trade, the Sandlers are barefoot runners, teachers of barefoot athletes, and authors who write on the popular subject of barefoot fitness. They are currently touring to promote their new book, Barefoot Walking, released by Random House this year. It follows their first book, Barefoot Running (Random House, 2011).

At a recent book tour stop in Boulder, CO, members of the audience asked about their experiences going barefoot in public and in stores and restaurants.

"In most all places, it [going barefoot] is not illegal; we did a lot of research on this," Michael Sandler said.

Michael Sandler lectures in barefoot running techniques. Photo by Jessica Lee-Sandler

He spoke of a restaurant in the eastern US that he went into, where the MaƮtre 'D told them they would have to put on shoes or leave.

Sandler said he would not put on shoes, but would not argue the point, either. He stressed that barefooters should remain polite in any such situation. While most states do not have lawas against going barefoot, they often specific that a business establishment can use its discretion on granting access to shoeless patrons.

The Sandlers lived most recently on Maui, where they filmed their documentary, "Barefoot Running, the Movie!". Jessica spoke about changes her husband helped bring to the policy of the local Whole Foods supermarket where they regularly shopped for groceries.

"Michael got to be good friends with the security guard at Whole Foods, where they wouldn't allow you to shop barefoot. Then one day, the guard told him that the store manager had decided to change the store's policy, and now customers are allowed to shop barefoot," She explained as she stood barefoot before the audience.

Diplomacy by barefooters is also stressed by Dr. Daniel Howell, PhD, better known as "the Barefoot Professor. Howell was once thrown off a plane for not having shoes, a bit ironic since passengers must all remove their shoes for screening prior to boarding.

"Confrontations led by emotions like these are bound to backfire. What started as a relatively minor incident (in the mind of the manager, not the barefooter who was already terrified in the parking lot) has now exploded into a major ordeal that Mr. Manager will not soon forget. Bare feet are now officially banned and on the radar. You, the barefooter, have blown it and you and your feet are not welcome here.

There’s a better way to handle these confrontations,"  Howell wrote on his blog, Barefoot Press.  Howell's blog and website have numerous links and interview clips.
The short version of Howell's advise to new barefooters: when confronted for being barefoot, "don't be a jerk; you just give barefooters a bad reputation," he says.

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