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One Day Without Shoes

April 19, 2013

In case you missed it, April 16 was the annual “One Day Without Shoes” event sponsored by the touchy-feely shoe company Toms. The day was meant to raise awareness about Toms feel-good marketing strategy: buy a pair of cheap canvas loafers for at least three times their value and Toms will ship another pair to some poor kid in the third world.

Yes, I am cynical. The Toms campaign reminds me a little of Nestle and other baby formula companies who pushed their products on the third world, getting mothers who would otherwise be breastfeeding, to switch to formula. Trendy shoes and powdered formula are first world luxuries that have got to be low on the list of needs in the third world. Might as well send them a DVR while we’re at it, so they’ll never again miss an episode of True Blood. Or maybe a Keurig. A single-cup coffee brewer is practically a necessity! Who wants to brew a whole pot if you only need one cup?

Of course, as shoes go, Toms are pretty good. They are flat, flexible, and offer minimal support. They are much better than say, Asics Gels, or some other overly-cushioned and supportive athletic shoe. Plus, the ones with glitter and sparkles are *gulp* even cute. And if the “One Day Without Shoes” event gives people the courage to try public barefooting, then I am on board.

A friend from high school decided she would try out “One Day Without Shoes,” and I was pretty excited to hear about her experience. She is a socially-conscious, earth-loving, artistic and free-spirited mama, who, surprisingly, never tried going out barefoot before Toms designated the day. On April 16, she hit Lowes, the orthodontist, her daughter’s school and jujitsu class in her naked soles. In a Facebook message she said, “I was very aware of my surroundings. When I parked at the school to get my kidlets for jujitsu I opened the door and looked down FIRST to see what may have been vomit. I did not step in it!!!!”

“One Day Without Shoes” is supposed to help people feel empathy for those poor kids who don’t have anything to put on their feet, but I wonder how many people who participated in the event instead found the experience really enjoyable. My friend did: “It was fun! I think I will go barefoot more places. Felt good to be connected to the ground and to slow down for each foot placement!”

Those are her cute feet pictured above. With feet like that, who needs shoes?

From → Friends

  1. I usually avoid the Tom’s “One Day Without Shoes” campaign for the reasons you’ve mentioned. Though, I sincerely hope that perhaps it does help bring about some converts to barefooting. As to your friends feet…yes, they are cute…though I think all “bare” feet are much more attractive than shod ones!

  2. Just Wondering permalink

    “She is a socially-conscious, earth-loving, artistic and free-spirited mama, who, surprisingly, never tried going out barefoot before Toms designated the day”

    I just can’t even get my head around that. Like, wow. That was an experience that was so ordinary and normal in varying degrees for most of us growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, that it is beyond comprehension that the young people of today don’t even think of it. Even if she would have stopped doing that as an adult, I would have assumed that as a kid or teenager she would have at least had some of those kinds of experiences. Very strange world we live in today….LOL

  3. BFrank permalink

    Just think about it, if Toms Shoes truly had an altruistic interest in helping poor children by providing them shoes (not that shoes are something they really need), they would simply be sending them shoes – no strings attached. Why is a purchase necessary for this to happen? The truth is, they’ve hit upon a very clever marketing scheme, which has two parts:
    (1) Convince people that poor kids around the world need shoes because being barefoot is a horrible life, and tell people that Toms will “donate” shoes to these children – but only if a consumer pays for an overpriced pair of cheaply made shoes first (thus, the consumer in effect is paying for both pair – Toms is out nothing).
    (2) Create new customers by creating a demand for shoes in these poor countries where there was never a demand before.

    It’s a clever scheme, no doubt about it. And the sad thing is that so many people are falling for it, hook, line, and sinker. It’s exploitation on a major scale – of both American consumers as well as poor children in underdeveloped parts of the world.

    This is very similar to a classic extortion scam. That is, somebody convinces you that someone you care about is in intense distress and danger. They also let you know that they have the means and ability to alleviate the problem and make the person safe. But they will only do it if you pay them money.

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