Watch out, the AJXX9 might be coming your way, or the Retro 7 or 9. I know, it sounds like gobbledegook. If you have teenage boys you probably know all the lingo. It’s about the shoes -- tennis shoes.
When I was in high school, I wore a pair of white Chuck Taylor Converse high tops. Three years of wear, and I think they were still going strong on graduation night. But kids today have a different shoe etiquette, and it costs plenty. My white Chuck Taylors didn’t match anything else I wore. That would be considered a fashion faux pas nowadays. Come to think about it, the only time I matched was when I went to church.
Now the kicker. Athletic shoes today cost an arm and, pardon the pun, a leg. Michael Jordan, while not starting the athletic shoe craze, certainly has taken it to new heights. There are Air Jordan Future Sneakers that costs $426 a pair. The Air Jordan AJXX9 hits the pocketbook for $225, and there’s a whole line of Retro Air Jordans that start at about $190. Here’s my advice for parents who have children clamoring for a pair of shoes that cost more than a month’s utilities: Don’t just do it!
Don’t fall prey to the marketing efforts of the shoe makers that are designed to separate you from your money. And I say “you” because you’re the person with a job and responsibilities. You have to keep a roof over your children’s heads and food in their stomachs. No child needs a pair of sneakers that cost more than a car payment.
But shoe companies know how to get into your kids’ heads. They adjust the supply to make the child think he/she has something unique because the store only has a limited number of the new-styled shoes. The buzz has kids heading to malls to get their tickets that will give them an opportunity to get the latest pair -- that is until next week when a new “latest pair” will be on display and the shoe lottery begins again.
The marketers have turned buying shoes into a video game. You can earn points that give you a better chance of getting the next new shoe. But of course, to earn points, you have to spend even more money as they slickly reach into your pocketbook via your child’s addiction and his/her PS2 or other gaming device.
The marketing strategy is about more than shoes, It gets people in stores where they might latch onto other products from hats to T-shirts to shorts. A person has to match, right? Wrong. Don’t just do it!
Parents, you have better things to do with your money, and I encourage you to use this insane desire for shoes with somebody else’s name on them as a teachable moment. If your child wants a pair of these shoes, it’s time for them to get a job. You will be amazed at how quickly the shoe addiction disappears when the shoe (again, pardon the pun) is on the other foot and it’s their money lying on the counter.
I had a rule with my boys. They could have any shoe in the store as long as it cost less than $50. That might be impractical in today’s marketplace, so I would up it to $65. Your kids may still beg and plead, but don’t just do it!
This will teach your child that you’re not a money tree and that money has sweat-equity value. If they want something, they have to earn it. Too many children walk around bedecked in the latest style thinking they’re entitled,
We all want our children to have what we didn’t have. That’s natural, but we have to resist the urge to spoil them, because in the short and long run it will not serve them well. Shoes, no matter how beautiful, are not a priority. Buying groceries is.
But if that shoe money is just burning a hole in your purse, here’s what you do. Spend the money on a tutor for your children. If he/she is having issues with math, science or English, get a tutor. Pay for a class that will teach them study skills and note taking. Investing in your children in this way will give a great return on investment that will never wear out, get dirty or need to be replaced with another style. Now, just do it!
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet@crichard1020.