Saturday afternoon I went to the coolest shoe store around. It's been in Clarendon, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, since 1938. This is a picture of the guy; his store is mentioned at the end of this article. He's a podiatrist and he knows what shoes will make your feet not hurt. Also, he was able to tell me that the pain in the ball of my foot is probably not caused by a cracked bone, which it hadn't even occurred to me to worry about.
The store looks like it's been there since 1938 - there's hand-lettered signs in the window, shoe boxes lining all the walls, terrible overhead fluorescent lighting, and you sit in chairs with mustard-yellow velvet upholstery. You tell the guy what you want, he looks at your feet and comes back with the perfect shoe. Perfect in comfort, if not always in appearance.
I told him about my nasty plantar fasciitis and he brought me a new pair of Etonics that make my feet want to cry for joy but are entirely unsuitable for nice clothes. After offering me a few pairs of black orthopedic shoes, he dug up a pair of SoftWalks and grudgingly agreed to let me buy them for work. (He also put some arch supports in my Norwegian dance shoes but only after I promised to wear the Etonics whenever I walk. So I think I'm going to be a pretty obvious tourist as I march through the streets of Berlin. Sigh.)
Public Shoe Store, people. Go while you can. (He's in his 70s - this can't go on forever.)