The gardening-clogs-turned-shoes known as Crocs are certainly a maligned style of footwear, but they can hardly compete with Birkenstocks' enduring stigma as an instant symbol of all that is granola. Here in the Bay Area, where liberal is merely moderate, the German-made sandals that rose to counter-cultural prominence during the Sixties and Seventies may not be a fashion faux-pas, but they still make a statement. Their straight straps and square buckles summon an era of liberalism, environmentalism, and progressive thought that precedes Priuses and seems to boast of authenticity. Plus, their form-fitting cork soles are ridiculously comfortable. That's why the sandal that everyone loves to hate remains a hot seller at Shuz of Rockridge, formerly a Birkenstock-branded store and still an authorized repair center. Salespeople can hardly keep the shoes in stock. The small store carries a host of styles — the widest selection in the Bay Area, one employee avowed — and can special-order whatever's missing. The salespeople are highly knowledgeable about Birkenstock fitting, maintenance, and repair, and share their expertise generously. Inside these four walls is a safe zone; strut your Birks beyond them at your own risk.
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