I was always the one to say I would never stand in line for any type of sale. Black Fridays, Christmas shopping, early bird special – bah! Why would I do that? Well, not only did I stand in line for a sale, I camped out at 3:00 am for it. This is way beyond what I’m willing to do, but I sure did.
In 2011 a friend and I agreed to go to the annual TOMS sample sale. Opening their doors at 6:00 am, we thought we would be clever and arrived by 5:55 am. The line was at least 5 blocks long (low guess) when we arrived. I looked at her with a “there’s no way I’m doing this” face but she really wanted to score a great pair of discounted TOMS, I secretly wanted that too!
It was 11:30 am and the line did not advance much and people were coming out with bags filled with shoes, I saw a parade of my favorite colors go by, yellow, turquoise, bright pink and classic black. Secretly I was eager to get in the store and get my share but I had to attend my Alma Matter’s Communications Banquet at 1:00 pm where I was part of the program. I had just enough time for the 45 minute drive home, shower and hopefully make it on time.
I had to leave but my friend gave me the saddest, most “I’m depressed” look I’ve ever seen. We crafted a plan where she would stand in line while I did my thing, she would get my shoes and I would come back for her. Fast forward 6 hours, when I arrived to pick her up, the store was closed, the lot was empty and only small evidence of the sale lingered in the lot. All of the sudden the sky seemed to turn gray when I saw the expression on my friend’s face. They were all out of my size and had very little selection in hers.
It was so sad, I don’t know if I felt worse for all the driving and sitting in traffic, rushing, wasted time I had to go through or all that standing and waiting she had to do ALL DAY to end up with nada!
This year, when I received the newsletter announcing the 2012 TOMS sample sale I felt I needed closure to that horrible day. Amazed about what I was feeling, I sent my accomplice a note and she agreed to go with me this year – I guess she needed closure too.
So there we were again, in the same state hope filled-mind, hoping 3:00 am was early enough. There were at least 100 people in front of us by that time. Some had pitched tents, eating out of pots, trying to stay warm by huddling together. It was a shopping center wilderness campout – without the wilderness.
The doors opened at 6:05 am, we were in by 6:20 am and still then most of my size was gone, geez! But I managed to look around, try different styles and got 9 pairs of TOMS for myself, yes 9! and not ashamed to admit it – Oh, you should see the wedges I bought! As I walked to the car with my big transparent bag, I got a glimpse of my reflection on a car window and I think I saw Smigel from Lord of the Rings, I muttered the words “My TOMS” to my reflection and I realized it was me!
Yeah, I felt bad, but that only lasted a couple of seconds when I remembered why I like this brand so much.
TOMS business model is One for One, for every shoe they sell, they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. The company was founded by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur I really admire for coming up with this awesome way of making money but helping others in the process. The company designs and sells shoes based on the Argentine alpargata design.
Friends of TOMS, TOMS’ non-profit subsidiary, has given out over 1 million pairs of shoes to children under the One for One program since TOMS launched in 2006. The canvas shoes have been given to children in more than 20 countries worldwide, including the United States, Argentina, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Guatemala, Haiti, South Africa and Central American countries. TOMS are sold at more than 500 stores nationwide and internationally, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods Market, which features styles made from recycled materials.
TOMS has now expanded to eyewear – TOMS Eyewear was launched in 2011 with the support of a few of my awesome friends at Ketchum. They use a similar model of one for one: for every pair of glasses sold, a person in need will receive medical care, prescription glasses, or sight-saving surgery – Now that’s a true visionary!
I don’t have plans of standing in line for any sale again… But I won’t say never, we all know how I failed miserably this time. But for the right cause and the right product I just might!