AUSTIN (CultureMap) -- Blake Mycoskie is a man on a mission.
The founder of TOMS, the innovative company that shot to success by giving a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair sold, has been scouting for the perfect location for a stand-alone Austin store for two years -- and he finally found it.
The new TOMS store, which is only the company's second free-standing store (the first is in Venice, Calif.) will open on March 11 in a renovated Victorian house "with a lot of history to it" at 1401 South Congress.
"We are trying to create a real space for the community. I don't like to even call it a store. It's more of a community space, a cafe, a meeting place for people who are inspired by what we are doing and doing other great things themselves," Mycoskie said in a telephone interview from TOMS headquarters near Los Angeles.
Babies and dogs are welcomed, too, he added.
Only half of the 2,400-square-foot property will be devoted to retail, he said. The other half will be for hanging out, with a lot of indoor and outdoor seating and a tree house in the back for private meetings or for customers just looking for quiet time to themselves. "It's really meant to create an environment like you're visiting someone's house than a retail store," he said.
Products from Daily Juice, Better Bikes Bakery, Kosmic Kombucha and Green Leaf organic fruit supplies will be sold, "so it feels like this really is an Austin business," he said.
One for One
Mycoskie, a Texas-native who grew up in Arlington, graduated from St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin and spent two years at Southern Methodist University before dropping out to start his first business, founded TOMS in 2006 after a trip to Argentina. He volunteered with a local nonprofit to deliver used shoes to needy children and came upon the idea to sell an updated version of the alpargata (a shoe made of canvas or cotton fabric and a sole of rope or rubber material) and donate shoes on a "One for One" business model.
The idea was an immediate hit and since then TOMS has donated more than 10 million shoes around the world. Mycoskie has also expanded the product line to appeal to men, with a popular series of brogues and other manly styles, and produced limited edition collections to benefit Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative and Charlize Theron’s Africa Outreach Project.
For spring, the privately-held company collaborated with home furnishings designer Jonathan Adler on a collection of colorful unisex styles.
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