Guesses were flying around Reed”s of Starkville Tuesday.
Hats? Backpacks? Swimwear? Umbrellas? Everybody had a guess as to what was hiding in the 7-foot-tall TOMS cylinder. Nobody guessed sunglasses, but in retrospect, that”s the obvious choice.
Reed”s of Starkville was one of 90 stores worldwide — and one of approximately 30 non-chain retailers — selected to host the unveiling of a new TOMS product line Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. A TOMS employee was sent to each location to unlock the huge canisters at the same time Tuesday.
The contents of the large tubes sent to each location was kept carefully under wraps. Even Ayla Farquhar, art director of the TOMS creative department, who arrived in Starkville Sunday, didn”t find out what was in the tube until Monday.
TOMS is the company behind the “One for One” marketing campaign which provides a pair of TOMS shoes to an impoverished child in a third-world country for every pair purchased. The new line of eyewear will work along the same lines, except that for every pair of sunglasses sold, TOMS will put money toward sight-related medical treatment, surgery or a pair of glasses for one individual.
“It”s another product designed to give people what they need,” said Farquhar. “Now every time I put my glasses on, someone else can, too.”
The glasses start at $135, which prompted many in the crowd that had gathered for the unveiling to state they would buy a pair “eventually.” But everyone was impressed with the glasses and said they looked forward to helping someone around the world achieve better vision.
“I was kind of surprised. I expected clothes,” said Natalie Hinton, a Mississippi State University student who owns three pairs of TOMS shoes. “But I think this is great because he said it”s a major problem around the world.”
“He” is Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes and originator of the One for One concept. Prior to the unveiling, a video package was played featuring Mycoskie explaining the need for vision care around the world.
“I loved it. I think it”s going to be great and help the kids,” said Jalya Garthia Elena Burnett 6/7/11 emailed jason to double check this Robertson, who showed up to the unveiling with three of her friends, all of them in matching homemade TOMS T-shirts. “We wanted to support TOMS. We love the mission behind it and what it stands for.”
The friends estimated they owned 14 TOMS products between the four of them.
Reed”s owner Lex Jackson”s guess at the contents of the tube was wrong, as well, but he was pleased with the sunglasses. For participating in the introductory promotion, Jackson said Reed”s will be the only local store to carry TOMS sunglasses until October.
“All of (Mycoskie”s) programs are a bit of a tearjerker. I thought ”How do you beat putting shoes on everyone?” But to give somebody sight …” he said, trailing off at the end of his thought.
Farquhar said TOMS celebrated selling its millionth pair of shoes in November. Reed”s has sold TOMS for the past three years, but Jackson said the line has “exploded” in the last year.
“It”s one of the best single-item products we”ve sold in 20 years,” he said.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.