1600 km "shoe shopping" weekend road trip...

Guest blog by: Sarah (shoe addict) Lucas, November, 16, 2013

I think it started as kind of a joke. The store My Sole Addiction (located in downtown Grande Prairie on 100th Ave and 99th St.), has a great Facebook page and every day they post a picture of a fabulous shoe that you just want to own (I did actually buy one of the pairs of boots currently in their cover photo).

And my cousin Lisa, her sister-in-law and I were joking that we should go there to check it out (Grande Prairie is a city of 55,000 people four and half hours from Edmonton a city of over one million and home to the West Edmonton Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the world).  Then the “yeah sure” comments turned more serious and we were picking travel dates.  Next we booked a hotel room, and before we knew it we had actual plans!

Sarah and Scapa modelling her new acquisitions. 

It had better be worth it!

On the way home on Sunday after it was all said and done, Lisa and I actually admitted to each other that we were expecting the other person to cancel at some point! But we didn’t and now we have a great story!

Anyway, Lisa drove up to Edmonton from Okotoks on Friday (337 kilometers) after work. Then first thing Saturday morning we headed to Grande Prairie (462 kilometers) in my all-wheel drive SUV, which was good since it was “winter driving conditions.”  

We stopped at Timmy’s (Tim Horton’s for those who don’t live in Canada is a coffee donut shop with over 3,000 locations and yes it was started by a hockey player), in Whitecourt to refuel (car and people) and made the decision to keep going - we were halfway between Edmonton and GP. We both said “IT HAD BETTER BE WORTH IT!” 

Lisa (bag lady) Brown and her new found friends.  

Not Cheap!

Luckily when we go to the store, we realized “the rumors are true” (that’s the sign on their window). The store was super busy, but beautiful shoes were everywhere so it’s no surprise. We both talked on the way there about how much we would spend, what we were expecting, etc. but after the long drive we felt we deserved to splurge a little. Of course they don’t sell “cheap” shoes, or else why would you go (you can get cheap shoes anywhere).

We only spent about 1.5 hours there (otherwise we would have risked our marriages with extravagant shoe spending). But they had everything so we did our best to do our due diligence.

Yes they carried brands that we can get in Edmonton or Calgary, but we also saw shoes the same as my Mom bought in Europe last year. They had everything from funky, unique boots that not everyone can pull off, to cool, stylish boots and everyday black pumps.

Sarah's foot fetish foreplay fun! 

Yes we are addicted! 

It was so much fun to try shoes and since I am short and run a lot, I have a hard time finding knee high boots that comfortably fit my calves, however I had lots of options at Sole Addiction, so there was lots to try!

Staff were super helpful and even brought suggestions, which was hard since Lisa and I have different style preferences, but they managed to find things we both liked (luckily it didn’t come down to the same pair)! Even other shoppers were offering feedback and comments on the boots they preferred on us.

I settled on a plum colored, 13” tall boots, which I have of course worn every day since I got home. Then when I thought I was done I came across a vibrant red shoe with cute buckle and strap details that had a higher heel but only came up just above the ankle.  I had previously shown restraint and said no to a $300 pair of heeled tan boots. Well I had it in my head that I needed a red pair, but thought knee high was too much of a statement (for me anyway) so settled on the lower pair!

The ones that got away! Mom likes these also but is not willing to contribute to their purchase. 

Yes we are crazy! 

Now before Mom points out, or you notice yourself, yes they do ship online… but you never know if it’s worth it until you actually see a shoe in person. And with so many brands how do you know which ones will fit, every shoe style fits differently. Needless to say I will be exploring the online option when I have some time (and disposable income), but there is something to be said for the whole shopping in person experience.

We are already talking about our next trip (not winter driving conditions and hopefully during a sale), but it is definitely an experience worth repeating. Of course I would not have gone without my cousin and it wouldn’t have been the same without her. 

 

A road trip in northern Alberta in November brings with it the challenges of winter driving. Some would say a road trip in winter is CRAZY!  

Yes we know we are crazy, but I actually enjoy telling people the story when they say how much they love my boots, and where did I get them? I was too busy ogling the shoes, but I wished I had asked other people about their journey to Sole Addiction. 

 

This was the catalyst for the iconic shoe shopping road trip.  It truly must be those with an addiction! 

Sarah looks like one happy addict! 

Flaneuring Finds at the Uptown Plaza

By Richard White, October 4, 2013

Had great fun this morning flaneuring at the Uptown Plaza in Richland.  We had been told that we should check out Spudnuts a Richland icon but what we didn't know was that the entire plaza was a living history museum.  

Upon finishing our spudnuts for breakfast we decide to check out what else was around - as any good flaneur would do.   

Below is a photo essay of our flaneur finds at the Uptown Plaza which looks like it was built in the '60s and today has evolved into a second-hand, thrift, vintage, estate sale mecca.  For treasure hunters like us it was like we had died and gone to heaven.   

There are several of these Las Vegas like retro neon signs marking the entrances to the Uptown Plaza.  Why can't modern shopping centers create signage like this any more.  Where has the character and charm gone - stucco and rock just doesn't do it.  

The Spudnut Shop was established in 1948 when Jerry Bell bought a franchise for $50 and 100 sacks of Spudnut (potato) flour.  The store has been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel.  It is a local icon.

Inside Supnuts is full of local characters.  There was a long line-up not only of people waiting to get in but also people want to pick-up and go.  Everyone seemed to know everyone - it was like a big family kitchen. 

One of the quirkiest things about Spudnuts was the coffee served with two same straws.  We have never seen this before. At first thought this might be a way of noting which coffee was black and which had milk but B didn't have milk so both were black...strange?

We decided to check what else was in the plaza and just a few door around the corner was the sign "Desserts by Kelly" with the Atomic Bombe cake.  Who could resist checking this out. Once inside we found the strangest shop.  The front had framing and art supplies, another wall was all baseball collectables and then at the back was the bakery with wonderful looking cakes, cookies, scones and of course the Atomic Bombe cadke.  

This is the Atomic Bombe Cake with layers of velvety chocolate mousse, pralines and chocolate truffle icing.  It retails for $28.95 and they sell at least 4 per day.  I was sooooooo tempted. 

Just ahead was this wonderful neon sign announcing Lee's Tahitian Restaurant in the pink flamingo pink building.  It just doesn't get any better than this. 

One of the things we love to do when flaneuring is "window licking" i.e. window shopping (the french word literally translates into window licking).  One of the things like love is the reflections in the windows and the juxtaposition of the images.  They create rich collages of images that have their own wonderful narrative. Like this one in the music store.  

At the end of the Uptown Plaza's shops was a huge antique mall that was full of treasure's for someone.  We didn't have enough time to explore but will be going back.  

Flaneuring back we took a side alley like sidewalk just incase there might be something else and stumbled upon Becky's.  It was a hybrid between thrift and antique store...lots of interesting artifacts. Brenda has this place on the top of her list to go back and check out.  

No sooner had we left Becky's when we were at the Estate Sale.  While the Uptown Plaza doesn't have the upscale traditional tourist shops, it is a "treasure hunters" mecca.

While we didn't find the "kitchen sink" at the Uptown Plaza we did find a "four poster bed."   

As we were quickly shuffling off to meet up for lunch one of the last shops was this barber shop.  This was the exclamation mark on the Uptown Plaza experience for us.