Yesterday I checked out Qianmen Street, just south of Tiananmen Square. The last time I was there was in October, when only a handful of shops and restaurants were open, the rest of the retail space dark and empty.
However, this time many more stores were open including H&M, Zara and New Balance.
Renovations were still going on, making grating noises and creating dust, but that didn't deter a number of Chinese visitors from taking lots of pictures and window shopping. It was bizarre seeing an older man with a poor man's paper hat walk in and out of Zara...
Anyway -- I checked out the New Balance store, as I had read in Time Out magazine that it had just opened. But it turns out last week was its grand opening and yesterday was actually its first day of operations.
I've never had New Balance shoes before and decided to try them out. The staff quickly figured out I overpronate by asking me to stand on my left leg slightly bent, and putting the top of my right foot behind my left knee. I was immediately trying to balance outwards which showed overpronation.
Then they measured my feet's length and width before suggesting specific shoes for me.
I settled on a pair that was quite expensive at 990RMB ($145), but since I had a recent foot injury, I didn't want to take chances by getting the wrong pair of shoes.
The staff were so excited to make their first sale, signing me up for email newsletters and filled out a small card that gave all my foot details so I didn't have to remember them all the next time I buy a pair of runners.
And since I was spending a princely sum on these shoes, they also threw in a free T-shirt worth 180RMB that says "New Balance Beijing 2009", that the staff say is only available in the Qianmen store.
The ironic thing about New Balance is that the shoes are made in the United States, unlike Nike and adidas which are made in China and southeast asian countries. That explains why New Balance shoes are more expensive.
I'll see how things go with these new shoes and hope the extra investment will keep me running for a while.