Little girls like pink. And the buyers at Thom McAn shoe store in the Tysons Corner shopping mall had done their homework. Lined up for all to see on the front display counters were sneaks for girls, all trimmed with shades of pink. There were the traditional canvas Keds -- in white with pink laces, salmon or peach with white laces, and even one pair that was one-third rose, one-third purple and one-third Crayola sea green.

There were cool leather high-tops with pink sparkly laces and bubble gum-pink piping.

There were pink slip-ons -- those perfect princess shoes that make a girl feel like a ballerina.

Jennifer Millard, 7, of Dunn Loring, and her 4-year-old sister, Amanda, were shoe shopping with their mom, Sherry, on Saturday -- the last Saturday before school starts! -- so they stopped in the Thom McAn store. The girls were dazzled by the selection of shoes. Pink shoes.

It is safe to say that Jennifer is into pink. She was wearing a hot pink -- almost fuchsia -- T-shirt, pink-and-white print shorts, and white socks decorated with pink hearts. She says her bedroom is pink too.

She was trying on the multicolored Keds -- the ones that are one-third salmon color. She couldn't wait for the salesman to help slip them on her feet either. She wanted to wear them now.

"They're too small," she announced.

"That's wild," said her mother. "They're too narrow for your feet!"

Jennifer kicked off the sneaks and tried on a pair of plain black flats. Popped them on her feet by herself again, and pranced around the store like Dame Margot Fonteyn, her ponytail swishing with every step.

"They seem a little big," her mother said diplomatically. There was a good quarter-inch of space on all sides between her foot and the shoe.

"Mommy," whined Amanda, "when are we going to goooo????"

Amanda was getting understandably antsy. She'd picked out her new shoes -- the white leather high-tops with the pink sparkly laces -- and gotten a perfect fit just like that. Why was her sister taking so long?

Assistant manager Skip Delinger carried out another seven or eight miniature shoe boxes, stacked up to his chin. He didn't have the black slip-ons in Jennifer's size. But try these. They're just as nice.

"They're ugly," Jennifer declared. Case closed.

Five-year-old Christina Mobley of Washington, also dressed in pink, decided that the when-all-else-fails penny loafer was equally repulsive.

"I'm not wearing these penny loafers," she pouted. And -- one, two -- they were kicked off. "I like these," she said, putting on a pair of glistening black patent leather lace-ups with clunky rubber soles.

"They look like combat boots," said her mother, Sheila. Mom was wearing a hot pink linen coat-dress and rose-colored pumps. "Do people really buy these?" she asked the salesman.

"Oh, yes," he reassured her. They were nearly sold out.

"But darling," she said to Christina, "Daddy's going to buy you dress shoes."

"I want to keep these!"

"You really want to wear these to school?"

"I'm really sure," insisted Christina. "I'm not playing."

Then Christina picked up her worn-but-loved Cabbage Patch doll and marched over to the cash register.

Pay, Mom. She's wearing them home.

Melissa Stump, 9, of Sterling, didn't seem addicted to pink. Not a stitch of it on her. She appeared to be a conservative girl -- dressed in a simple white T-shirt, navy shorts and bobby socks, accessorized with gold hoop earrings and a gold name bracelet on her right wrist. She looked as if she belonged at the yacht club. Accordingly, she wanted a pair of classic docksiders.

She sat in the chair patiently as her 6-year-old brother, Michael, was marching around the store in a pair of very fancy-looking leather high-tops -- sort of a Lilliputian version of what NBA stars wear on the court.

Melissa kept swinging the deck shoe around by the sales tag tied tothe laces. It read, "25 percent off." That made them $22.50 rather than $30.

"If I pick out a pair of shoes and Mom doesn't like them, I don't get them," said Melissa. That rarely happens, though. "And she likes these.

"I got my dress shoes about a year ago, but I never wear them. They're white. I've got pink ones too."


And what about the Keds?

"I don't have any right now," she said, "But I'm going to have to get a pair for cheerleading."

Oh, by the way, nobody was looking at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sneakers.