Microwaving Shoes

There is a shoe store here in Singapore, in Tampines, that has a microwave sitting on the floor of the store.

I happened to be sitting there, idly looking around the store while my wife tried on shoes.  That’s when I noticed it.  I sat there, looking at it, trying to figure out why they have a microwave in a shoe store.  Then I put two and two together.  If you look at the reflection in the mirror above the microwave, you’ll see a treadmill.

The treadmill is in the store so you can test out your potential purchase.  That’s a pretty good idea I suppose, but then I really thought about it and realized that it’s kinda gross.  There can’t be just one set of shoes set aside for this purpose, since everyone wears different sizes.  This means that people ask for the size they need, try it on, and then possibly test it out on the treadmill as well.  But, what happens when the person decides they don’t want the pair of shoes they tested?

I guess that’s where this microwave comes in.  I imagine they put the shoes in the microwave and toast them to dry them out and potentially kill bacteria or fungus.  I have to wonder how effective that really is though, and I also have to wonder what sort of effect that has on the shoes.  Of course we all wash our shoes sometimes, and in the US it’s not uncommon to put them on a rack and run them through the dryer, but that wears down the shoe.  So, if a few people try on a pair of shoes and they get nuked and then you decide to buy them, you have a brand new used pair of shoes, potentially complete with fungi, bacteria, dried sweat, and already decomposing rubber.

At first glance this sounds like a great way to convince people to buy a product.  On the other hand, you wind up selling people something that’s not on par with the price they’re paying, and running shoes aren’t cheap here.

Keep in mind that this is all speculation.  I suppose it is possible that there is one test pair of every size of shoe that’s separate from the pairs they have for sale, but given the price of shoes here, and common business sense, I doubt it.


The mystery has been solved, and unfortunately it’s not quite as entertaining or provocative as I had imagined.

The microwave, or toaster oven, sitting there is used to heat up ‘heat moldable’ shoe inserts that the store sells.  These inserts are then put in the shoe and the person puts their foot in it to have it mold to their exact foot contours.  It’s done at the store as a convenience to the customer.