What Did I Say Wrong?

I was in a shopping district near my home, where I thought I had seen a shoe store. However, I could not locate, so I stopped someone to ask where it was.

"Excuse me, is there a shoe store nearby?"

He looked at me in a puzzled manner.

"A shoe store," I repeated.

"You want to buy shoes?"

"Yes." What else would I want the shoe store for?

"I think there's one down that way," he said, pointing.

Not wanting to waste time in case he was wrong -- he didn't seem very sure about whether there was or not -- I asked another passerby.

"Is there a shoe store nearby?"

He was taken back. "You want to buy shoes?"

Now, I'm sure there was something wrong with the way I was asking my question -- I just don't know what. "Shoe shop"? "Footwear store"? Advice welcomed.


  1. Mysteriously, this afternoon while waiting at a stoplight I overheard a pedestrian ask another pedestrian, "Is there a store down this way?" The second fellow of course was completely baffled and wanted to know what kind of store the first man needed. The first man was completly baffled he had to even ask why type of store. Finally, he admitted he wanted a grocery store but stormed off (in the wrong direction)like it was preposterous to even think he meant any other type of store.

  2. Anonymous10:05 AM

    The phrase is indeed 'shoe shop'. Asking for a 'shoe store' in an American accent would indeed cause bafflement in England. It sounds as though you are seeking a place to store your shoes.

    In England retail establishments are invariably called 'shops' the only exception is 'department store'.

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