HOLMDEL – Larry Paparo, president and chief executive officer of Floafers, the popular maker of floatable foam loafers, doesn’t have far to walk between his corporate office and his new flagship retail store.
Both are at Bell Works, the historic former Bell Labs building that has been turned into an office and retail center.
Last summer, Paparo moved Floafers’ corporate headquarters to Bell Works. On Wednesday, he, along with officials from Holmdel and Bell Works owner Inspired by Somerset Development, celebrated the opening of Floafers’ concept retail store, located adjacent to Jersey Freeze.
Founded via a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, Floafers makes foam loafers for men, women and children. The breathable casual shoes, made with an antimicrobial EVA foam, have mini pads for comfort and a rubber outsole. “You can wear it from daytime to night, from the boardroom to the beach,” Paparo said. Across all its lines, Floafers come in 150 colors with patterns available too.
“A lot of people have been dressing down since they have been working from home,” Paparo said. “We have been able to scale during this time when it has been difficult for others.”
Floafers has made it mark selling online and in retailers’ stores. “We are fresh and different,” he said. “The consumer is really embracing it.”
Now Floafers has its own concept store, leasing 900 square feet at Bell Works. “The store has a modern look and feel to it,” Paparo said.
The store helps tell the story of Floafers’ brand, he said. Located near its offices, it also gives Paparo a chance to see how customers react to Floafers. The company can also test new products too, he said.
“I can listen directly to the consumer and see what they say,” Paparo said.
Ralph Zucker, president of Inspired, said a Floafers store is right for Bell Works.
“They saw the activity, the life that was here,” Zucker said. “They said, ‘You know what. We would love to open a retail store here.'”
Floafers will bring people to Bell Works, Zucker said. “People will come here to shop at Floafers,” he said, adding, “Their brand has such a following.”
David P. Willis, an award-winning business writer, has covered business and consumer news at the Asbury Park Press for more than 20 years. He writes APP.com’s What’s Going There and Press on Your Side columns and can be reached at [email protected]. Join his What’s Going There page on Facebook for updates.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Bell Works Holmdel NJ Floafers shoe store opens, first retail location
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