This store, like Crocs themselves, has and will continue to attract critics. The thing that has made this project particularly contentious is that this building at 143 Spring Street, previously the home of Tennessee Mountain Ribs restaurant, was in serious disrepair - work did need to be done. So the criticisms gravitate towards the architectural details of what has been done and, of course, the presence of Crocs in SoHo.
There have been many articles about the building since Crocs's acquisition in 2006 and several articles since their opening on Saturday, May 8, 2010.
Built in 1818, the Federal era 192-year old, three-story structure is listed on the National Historic Register. In the 1970's it was combined with a 1925 garage building. The reconstruction project was done by architect William J. Rockwell. The exterior wooden clapboards have been replaced and the south face re-bricked (salvaging some of the older brick.) Much of the interior beam work is original.
Many were perplexed about the lengthy process in development - Crocs acquired the property in 2006. The building has landmark status, which makes any work a formidable and lengthy process, resulting in the appearance of neglect by Crocs in the first couple of years of acquisition before construction began. Crocs, Inc. is not the landlord - the property is owned by Abba 1 Realty LLC, and Crocs, Inc. has a 20-year lease (handled by Robert K. Futterman & Associates, LLC).
The greater mystery for many is how Crocs remains in business. Their very existence in the marketplace inspires violent outcry from some critics. There is a subculture of haters, with blogs and websites decrying Crocs, such as ihatecrocs.com. They have been the object of satire on shows like The Daily Show and Real Time with Bill Maher. The fashion industry has had its own critics, with many considering the shoes a fashion disaster.
But Crocs is another success story in the ugly shoe movement - Uggs, Birkenstock and Crocs have all been massively successful in spite of critics, detractors, haters, websites, and comics. Comfort has been a big factor in the success of all of these brands. In the case of Crocs, their proprietary Croslite foam* is a big feature.
Adoption by celebrities has fueled the popularity of Crocs. Chef Mario Batali was an early user in 2005 - the waterproof shoe in tandem with its comfort was perfect for working in a commercial kitchen. His bright orange Crocs are part of his signature appearance. Michelle Obama has been seen with them as well. The Niwot, Colorado-based company now sports over 100 shoe styles and has sales averaging $200 million dollars per quarter. They are sold in 125 countries and 6,500 outlets in the USA.
There is something about that Croslite foam that appears to be very resilient :)
*Croslite is a closed cell EVA foam developed by the Canadian company Foam Creations. The closed cell structure inhibits bacterial and fungal growth and resists odor. The material conforms to the shape of a wearer's feet, has extraordinary impact absorption properties and is reported to reduce fatigue and other medical benefits. Scott Semans, George Boedecker and Lyndon Hanson bought the license for the material and introduced Crocs at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show in 2002 (this shoe was an improved model of a boating clog already in production by Foam Creations). In 2004 Crocs, Inc. purchased Foam Creations. They hold four patents and constantly have to defend from "Croc-offs." The name Crocs was short for crocodile - the shoes, like the reptile, were fit for both land and water.