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  • Writer's pictureebeth206

The Hippie Jives Shoe Vibes

When Birkenstock Depot opened in Huntington Village in 2001--twenty years ago!--the store sold only Birkenstocks.

(Birkenstock. What does that make you think of?

It makes me think of Penn State in 1989, prairie skirts and wool socks, and a belated but devout appreciation of the Grateful Dead acquired through my roommate Lizzie and my erstwhile boyfriend Steve [note that "erstwhile" really only means "former" but somehow also sports a thoroughly appropriate whiff of debauchery].

Birkenstock makes me think of the pecan Granadas that were my very first pair, special-ordered from downtown State College's Bare Foot shoe store, a place where I didn't ordinarily shop because it was decidedly not Payless. [Well. Come on. My favorite places to shop in State College were the Brickhouse (which sold beer), Brother's (which sold pizza), and City Lights (which sold used CDs).

For your footwear edification: The Granada is a strappier, sassier version of the plain old leather-and-metal-buckle cork/latex/jute-footbed German "fitness sandal" embraced by the original hippies. The Granada was relatively new thirty years ago, when my ancient ass bought them, but Birkenstock still makes the style today. Which you might expect from a company that's been in business since 1774 and has expanded their audience to all ages and stations, genders, backgrounds, and nationalities [the Birkenstock brand is sold in more than a hundred countries].)

Just feast your eyes on this beauteous array of Birk riches at Birkenstock Depot in Huntington Village. This wall makes my second-generation-hippie heart sing. Store owner Denise explained to me that the Birkenstock representatives sometimes come into the store to design the special features themselves, and this impressive layout is one example.

This pretty, springy storefront is another. (Am I the only one who wants every shoe in this display? I think not. Unintentionally providing a perfect illustration of the brand's diverse appeal, my eleven-year-old son made immediate eyes at this pair that I'd bought for myself . . .

. . . and then he had the audacity to WALK OFF in them because they went with his black-and-white 'fit, which I allowed because I am a good, generous mama, and maybe also because I was feeling a teensy bit guilty about having bought three pairs of sandals for myself in, ahem, two weeks.)

What do the other two pairs look like? I'm glad you asked. Would you be able to resist this pink bling for the comfort-minded? Obviously I couldn't.

Birkenstock Depot also has your back if you need a pair of going-out kicks with a little bit of zazzle and/or lift. In addition to Birks, they sell Dansko (like my stylin new pair, above), Taos, Uggs, Blundstone, Naot, and Vionic, to name a few.

Having personally test-driven Taos and Naot (and purchased them right here at BD, of course), I am qualified to award them the "stand by the bar and drink all night" and "photograph a twelve-hour wedding" seals of approval.

A note about Vionics: they are not your father's flip-flops (BD does sell shoes for dudes; however, Denise noted wryly, women purchase ten pairs for every one pair bought by men). Vionic flip-flops boast enough arch and heel support for a former marathoner/plantar fasciitis sufferer to walk miles and miles. Plus, they're cute. You should pick up a pair for the beach. Maybe also another pair for the house. And one more pair for the chicken coop (I know, I know).

You'll find Birkenstock Depot conveniently located between Starbucks and Sapsuckers Hops & Grub, so you won't have to walk far to get your coffee and/or your spirits--but how incredibly cool is it that, with their shoes, you can!

P.S. "The Hippie Jives" is the name that another college roommate, ej, and I came up with for the mythical band we were sure we'd form someday. Ah, the dreams of yore . . . we were also sure we'd meet up in Guatemala in the year 2000, and so far, the closest I've come to Guatemala is through stories told by my friend Vera who hails from that colorful country--where I will someday, I promise, take my colorful shoes for comfortable walking.

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