The phenomenal success of Toms shoes and its revolutionary model, in which for every pair sold the company donates one to an impoverished community, was a dramatic illustration that nice guys can finish first.
In an interview with Oprah magazine, Toms founder Tom Mycoskie said: “Giving feels good, but it’s also good for the bottom line. Charity is a viable growth strategy for a lot of companies. Our customers get excited to be a part of what we’re doing. If you ask anyone wearing Toms how they first heard about us, most won’t mention an advertisement; they’ll say a friend told them our story.”
Like Mycoskie, the people behind the Villalobos Mall in Sao Paulo, Brazil, have found a similarly imaginative way to give back and, in the process, attracted a global spotlight.
Created by agency Loducca, São Paulo, “A Loja Vazia” (The Empty Shop), is a sleek, fashionable space where people can donate any clothing in good condition. At the end of each night, the clothing is unloaded and sent off to those in need, leaving it empty and ready for more donations in the morning.
The genius of The Empty Store (apart from finding a way to help those in need, of course), is that, once in the mall, a charitable patron can easily turn into a shopper since she may need, say, a new blouse to replace the one she just donated.
For cynics, this might seem a bit disingenuous. However The Empty Shop, Toms, and other for-profit socially-conscious models are discrediting the Gordon Gecko maxim “greed is good”, proving that while a profit can, and has, certainly been made by exploiting others, the same opportunity exists in helping them.
The Villalobos mall has received more than 3.2 tons of donated clothing to date, and many malls around the world have expressed interest in the model.