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FN's Private Eyes

Our secret shoppers infiltrate six major department stores.

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Nordstrom, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Location/date/time: 3333 Bristol St.; Sunday, July 5; 1 p.m.
The environment: This is a working shoe department with plenty of women trying on a couple of pairs.
Number of salespeople/customers: 6; 30
Prevalent brands: The department combines designer names with lines that are affordable and comfortable. Jimmy Choo and Prada take prime positions, but Manolo Blahnik has only a small bay. Taryn Rose, Stuart Weitzman, Donald J Pliner and Anyi Lu are more important here.
Styles in play: Flats, loafers and low pumps predominate, as well as the occasional eye-opener such as orange stilettos by Moschino Cheap & Chic.
Trend watch: Engineer boots with lug soles, kitten heels and wedges, including Prada’s tall, scrunchy suede.
The service: Salespeople gave me a polite “hello,” with no further questions until I was ready — just my style.
Yes, we have it: I vary between 7 1/2 and 8, or 37 1/2 and 38, and both sizes were available.
Most expensive: Jimmy Choo’s rabbit-fur-lined biker boots, at $1,050.
Least expensive: Burberry plaid rubber rain boots for $175.
It’s a steal: Sale shoes were on second markdown, at 60 percent off, making Brian Atwood’s slingbacks $225.
Top pick: With such a large display of Jimmy Choo, I couldn’t pass up the Peony boot in black leather with a back zip, for $965.
Lasting impression: These are friendly salespeople who won’t sell you a gimmick, but the department needs more marquee brands to really stand out.

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