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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Jennifer Wilson wears a T-shirt that says, "Will work for shoes."
She recently did just that. Rack Room Shoes chose the Hampton, Va., resident as one of six people nationwide to be featured on store posters and for newspaper and online ads during the holiday season.
More than 2,000 applied for the second annual competition, according to the company. The entry deadline for the 2006 Rack Room Model Contest ended in November.
"It's wonderful that Rack Room uses actual customers in their advertising and I'm thrilled to be a part of it," Wilson said.
For the poster, Wilson, 32, poses all stylish in jeans and sweaters - a pair of brown suede snow boots on her Size 11 wide feet.
The poster says, "unwrap the wishes," hinting at the suggestion that you should purchase shoes for everyone on your shopping list.
Not a bad idea, if you ask Wilson, a self-described shoe addict.
"I've worn heels since high school when I wore suits and carried a briefcase," she says. "I told my boyfriend if he wants me to fall in love with him, he needs to buy me shoes that I fit and shoes that I love."
The boots Wilson wears for the poster are now stored in a shoebox in her closet - along with boxes holding another 50 pairs of heels, boots and sneakers. Her most elegant ones have mink trim around the ankles. All of her shoes and boots - black, purple, cognac brown, red, blue, pink, copper and peach - have pocketbooks to match, she said.
"People are so use to me wearing high heels with unique colors or patterns on them, that if I decide to wear a simple black heel they think something is wrong," she said.
Wilson entered the contest November 2004, dropping a postcard with a photo attached to it in a box at the shoe store in Hampton. In early fall, she received a call saying she had been selected. She flew to Raleigh, N.C. for a day shooting photographs of her modeling the boots and a pair of suede boat shoes, which she also kept. She was paid for her day's work and given a $100 gift card.
Even though Wilson's friends call her the "shoe diva," her ongoing search for footwear has a real purpose, she said. Finding shoes to fit her long, wide feet is not easy, so she's always checking out stores wherever she goes.
"I shop for shoes the way most men shop for electronics," she says. "I won't buy an outfit unless I have the shoes to match. I have at least two pairs of shoes to match every outfit in my closet."
To get all those shoes, she hunts for bargains. She's spent as much as $49.99 for a sky blue leather shoe with a 3-inch heel. Her best discovery was $3 shoes the day after Thanksgiving a few years ago.
"I ended up buying all the shoes the store had in my size, about 10 pairs," she says.
(c) 2005, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.