It’s not often that shopping and giving go hand in hand. In fact, I have on many occasions shopped knowing that I would limit gifts I could give and given knowing that it would limit my shopping. With few exceptions, the two activities have seemed mutually exclusive.
However, in the last couple of years, a major exception has surfaced – TOMS Shoes. If you have not read about this company in some publication or on some website or seen the recent AT&T commercial, then it is high time you be introduced to the “shoes for tomorrow”. TOMS, founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006, operates on a “one for one” principle. For every pair of TOMS Shoes you purchase, a pair is given to a child in need. The shoes are distributed by means of shoe drops and by partnering NGOs that are able to deliver shoes year-round. Giving a child in need a pair of shoes seems incredibly basic, and it is. It is so basic that it is life-changing. From a public health perspective, a pair of shoes prevents disease. From a humanitarian perspective, a pair of shoes improves quality of life. From a biblical perspective, a pair of shoes serves the least of these (paraphrased).
In addition to changing a life, when you purchase a pair of TOMS, you get incredibly comfortable and stylish footwear. Wear the shoes, and you have a conversation piece – a chance to spread the word.
As a business, TOMS Shoes is an amazing example of customer involvement. Every customer has a sincere investment, and anyone can be a part of the TOMS community. There are more ways and links than I can possibly post. Videos are on YouTube. Vagabonds are touring. You can be a friend on Myspace or a fan on Facebook. Read their blog. Follow them on Twitter. Just keep clicking on one link after another.
I can’t remember when I first heard about TOMS. It may have been a blog entry by A Bryan Photo about a trip taken to photograph a shoe drop or maybe from internationally aware friends sporting the shoes. Maybe I saw them at Mountain High Outfitters. Whatever the source(s), I did finally get my first pair of TOMS last December. Currently, I’m trying to decide on my next purchase and gift.
If you purchase a pair online, you may just get something like this a couple months down the road:
Buyer’s remorse is impossible.