TOMS vs BOBS- A Classic Shoe Dilemma
I admit that the first time I saw a BOBS ad come on t.v. that my jaw dropped. I sputtered a few times and went “OMG. They just ripped off TOMS! Like, aaaaaall the way ripped off TOMS.” It turns out that I was not alone in my surprise, and displeasure. It isn’t cool to steal things, right? However, as I find myself in search of a new pair of shoes, I’m in a bit of a pickle.
The last three pairs of shoes I have purchased for myself, are all Skechers. Seeing as how they have held up, very nicely these past 5-7 years- I can’t say that I see Skechers in an unfavourable light. However, it’s been 7 years and as much as I am ‘frugal’, all but my pair of boots (the 7 year pair) are making their way to the shoe graveyard. One pair is just… ruined. Done in. Gone. The other pair has apparently folded itself into a shape where it cuts into the top of my toes. Since I walk roughly 3 miles a day, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I *really* need a new pair of shoes I can seriously walk in. Which brings me to my dilemma-
What shoes am I buying next?
I’m at that point in my life where I want to make better decisions, smarter decisions, “consumer aware” decisions. I can’t exclude shoes from that list, right? Plus, I have envied myself a pair of TOMS for a long time. I love that they look cute and that while looking cute, that they also do something good. However, doing good isn’t cheap. Have I mentioned that I am ‘frugal’? Well, I am. Being ‘frugal’ makes me baulk and wince at forking over $54. Okay, okay, you can get TOMS for slightly cheaper. Some run around $44. That’s where BOBS comes in.
Perhaps BOBS isn’t all bad. I’ve never really heard about TOMS coming out and complaining that Sketchers is using their exact shoe and business model. Is there a difference between the two? Here’s what I have found-
- Is careful to avoid negative impact on local businesses (I had heard previously that one reason to not buy TOMS was that it would interfere with local business, so it’s a big point to me that they are doing the right thing here)
- Stays at a location to continue giving shoes as they are outgrown
- While they do employ people from China, Ethiopia, etc. no child labor, and ‘fair’ wages
- Works with ‘giving partners’ so that it’s not just shoes, but a small part of a larger health care initiative
- Customer reviews all seem to be 4 stars and up
- Has a vegan line
- Uses “Earth Friendly” Packaging (your guess is as good as mine about what that ACTUALLY means…)
- Lots of 1 star customer reviews
It’s probably possible that BOBS by Skechers does more to ensure they are really doing a good thing- but if they do, we have no way of knowing. While I love to save a few bucks, I think that this is one of those areas where I’d rather get the real deal than the knock off. To be clear, there are people who boycott TOMS and BOBS on various principles. There are other fantastic socially conscious shoes out there. Unfortunately, most of the ones I have seen don’t meet my need, don’t fit, or simply don’t fit my budget. That shouldn’t stop you from looking though!
It’s true that each company may only be doing to BOGO business model because they are trying to make a buck or $54 off of you. Business is business, and I haven’t found ANY shoe company that doesn’t want to make a profit. I don’t mind coercing people into doing better by paying for it. From my limited amount of research, from what I have tried to track down, TOMS is the clear winner between TOMS and BOBS. Hopefully, I’ll be able to slip my feet into a new pair of TOMS soon ( you guys don’t understand the level of pain I have going on with the pinching in the shoes I have now), but I’ll be keeping my eye on some of those other socially conscious shoe options!
Have you thought about buying ‘socially conscious’ shoes before? What’s your take on the TOMS vs BOBS vs Others issue?
Image Credit: OhNo!Doom Collective via flickr.com
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