November 5, 2013, 11:53 AM

Shoe retailer Toms launches an e-marketplace

It sells 200 products from 30 brands that support social causes.

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Toms Shoes, which donates one pair of shoes or eyeglasses with each shoe or eyeglass purchase on its e-commerce site, has launched an online marketplace. It includes items from other brands that pursue charitable goals, the retailer said today.

Toms purchased 200 types of products wholesale from 30 companies that it considers “socially conscious,” in multiple categories, including home, apparel, jewelry and technology. Consumers can shop the marketplace by brand, type of product or the cause or world region the purchase would support.

“We believe social entrepreneurship is a movement that is here to stay, and the Toms Marketplace is our way of bringing awareness to so many amazing companies, causes and products,” says Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms.

Each product in the marketplace has a full description of what social benefit the purchase will have and where, along with information about the brand behind it. For instance, a bronze arrow bracelet from jewelry seller Fortuned Culture comes with the guarantee of providing six months of safe transportation to and from school for a child in Mexico. Shoppers can also click to learn more about what the brand does and read a short interview with its founder.

“Toms’ invitation to join the Marketplace was like hearing from a distant cousin,” says Will Haughey, co-founder of magnetic wooden blocks brand Tegu, which supports reforestation in Honduras. Tegu has done well selling on Inc.’s e-marketplace, he adds, but mainly to customers who already know about its brand and are looking for competitive prices and assortment. “I can only imagine that consumers will come to the Toms Marketplace desiring to discover, browse and learn, whereas they'll continue to go to Amazon and eBay in a fairly transactional state of mind,” he says.

Another brand launching with the Toms Marketplace, the One World Futbol Project, which sells and distributes soccer balls worldwide, also hopes to reach a broader audience via Toms, according to One World’s chief giving officer Lisa Tarver. “I think people will look to the Toms Marketplace as a place to shop where they know their dollars are doing more than just adding to a company’s bottom line,” she says. “We hope lots of people will join us with their purchasing power.”


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