Of all the giveaways going on here this month, this might be the one I’m most appreciative of.
That’s because the prize comes from Soft Star, a company I’ve plain and simply fallen in love with over the past year and a half. They’re a true Mom-and-Pop business that has survived and thrived for more than 25 years by doing things the old-fashioned way. Founders Tim and Jeanie Oliver taught themselves the shoe crafting trade, and started the cottage business while their toddlers bounced around the workshop.
To this day, every pair of Soft Star moccasins is hand-crafted (by employees affectionately called “elves”) at the family workshop in Corvallis, Oregon. The company is one of the last remaining shoe manufacturers whose entire material acquisition and production process stays completely in the United States. And although the company has grown, they haven’t lost the cozy family feel, as you can see in this cool video the company released this year, in conjunction with its 25th anniversary:
"Soft Star Shoes" (click to play):
Definitely a business you can feel good about supporting, huh? And for a company with 100% handmade products, they have a fairly impressive variety of adult, youth and (quite adorable) baby footwear. I first reviewed their grippy suede Roo slippers last year, and my wife went crazy for the Phoenix boot (see my review here) this fall. But of course, the primary object of my affection is the RunAmoc, whose development I was fortunate enough to be involved with, and which has become my favorite day-in, day-out minimalist shoe since its release last April.
It’s important to note that the RunAmoc isn’t an “all things to all people” minimalist shoe: various other products out there have a more secure fit, or a better barefoot feel, or a longer lifespan, or a more aggressive trail outsole. But there’s something unmistakably sweet about running in a pair of leather moccasins that look like something Native Americans might have worn, and no other minimalist shoe on the market comes close to matching the primitive “back to nature” vibe that you feel in a pair of RunAmocs. It’s a joy to run in them – and in my book, there’s a lot to be said for just plain joy.
And when I say they’re my day-in, day-out preference, I mean it. I have one pair of RunAmoc Lites with a 2mm street outsole that I use for road running or general all-purpose activity, a pair of Lites with a 5mm trail outsole for running off-road (including a 50M ultra back in May), and a chocolate suede RunAmoc with street outsole that I use as my favorite walking around shoe.
If you’re the winner of this contest, you’ll get to try a new pair of RunAmocs for yourself. The winner will receive a gift certificate code equal to the cost of one pair of standard RunAmocs (lite or suede) plus domestic shipping. Two minor disclaimers: if you need to do a custom order for unusual sizes or widths, it will cost you a few extra dollars, and if you’re an international reader, you’ll be on the hook for the cost difference with international shipping.
I used the word appreciative in the opening paragraph above, and that was no accident. Since all of their products are hand crafted and made to order, it’s not like Soft Star can just pull a brown size 11 off the shelf and ship it out to a winner; it takes some time to build a pair from scratch, and as you can imagine, this is a pretty busy time of year for a workshop full of slipper-making elves. So I’m honored that Soft Star is a sponsor here – which is all the more reason for me to love them.
For this contest, the link rule will be in effect: 1 entry for a comment, 1 for a Twitter or Facebook link, and one for a blog post link to this contest page. Enter by next Friday, December 17th at 5PM PST - be sure to let me know how many entries you deserve - and I’ll announce the winner later that night. Good luck to everybody, and very big thanks to Soft Star for making this contest happen.
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