SUGAR CITY — Thomas Scott is a man on a mission to sell high quality shoes.
Scott’s business, MissionShoe, is based in Sugar City, a town he said was perfect for starting new ventures.
“We’ve got great people. We’ve got a really positive, independent mindset that you see in this town and in this area,” he said.
A 33-year-old resident of Hibbard, Scott said the idea to create a durable, yet professional dress shoe began while Scott was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Brazil. He saw that locals used a shoe that wasn’t falling apart after weeks of walking.
After returning from his mission, Scott attended Brigham Young University-Idaho and decided to launch a shoe line as a side business in 2008.
“We use a technology from a company in Brazil that makes them for postal workers,” he said. “Postal workers in Brazil walk everywhere. They don’t have trucks. So we took their sole technology and matched it with what we wanted our tops to look like. We paired them together and created a shoe that’s a fraction of the weight.”
Scott said the shoe has been very popular among missionaries who were called to serve in places that don’t have a lot of vehicle transportation.
“The MissionShoe line is a great active men’s dress shoe,” he said. “It looks just as good with a pair of jeans as it does a suit.”
MissionShoe has changed from just one line of proselyting footwear to a brand that is making waves in the online footwear industry.
“Locally, MissionShoe is the highest one we sell due to the high LDS population,” Scott said. “Even then, for every couple shoes that we sell in the general vicinity, we’re selling thousands and thousands of shoes, sandals, socks and everything else out to the world. We’ve got a presence in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.”
The second line is called Vertico, a footcare group of products that use a similar durable sole to the MissionShoe but in the form of sandals. Scott also sells other footwear and accessories through another line called Kaiback.
“Our Vertico foot care takes care of everything from shower sandals to foot powder, anything that has to do with taking care of your feet,” he said. “We’re one of the leading distributors of shower sandals online.”
Scott said the Vertico line is now his number one seller, saying that even though shower sandals might be a little “dorky,” they’re not a tough sell.
“95 percent of what we move is all online,” he said. “We have a presence on Ebay, Amazon, Jet.com, Walmart and Sears.”
And it all comes here to Sugar City before heading out to those retailers.
Scott said choosing to locate his business in Sugar City was a decision he was glad he made. He and his wife moved to Idaho after living in Arizona for a number of years, and even though they weren’t raised in eastern Idaho, Scott said he wouldn’t live anywhere else.
“I chose Sugar City because it was a good price on the lot,” he said. “I like that it’s right off the highway. I think it’s going to be a good center, and I would love to see other individuals who are like me, people who are in my groups saying, ‘Let’s see what it looks like to set up shop here.’”
Selling shoes online to customers around the world is not your typical local business. Yet Scott says Sugar City is a perfect place to launch an e-commerce company.
“The thing that’s cool about e-commerce and all of this stuff is there is this underground community,” Scott said. “There are so many people who are selling skirts out of their garage. There are candle makers and Etsy people. There are a lot of us that are here, but they all stay in their little corners. What I’m interested in is what happens when you put those minds together? What happens when that mom, who has been making scarves and is able to make an extra $3000 a month, goes out and meets someone who knows how to move $6000 scarves a month? You then have that synergy and things start to grow.”
Scott said finding those business collaborators in the area is very possible thanks to BYU-Idaho bringing in a large amount of talent and fresh ideas. He added that being here in the Upper Valley has been as beneficial to his business as the quality of the shoes that he sells.
“There’s a million and one ways to make money,” he said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, I wonder what Rexburg would like?’ It’s, ‘What does the world want, and why not set it up here?’”
Scott said he knows of several people who are in the e-commerce business that are looking to open up shop in Sugar City, as opposed to other larger cities.
“They have a hard time when places they’re finding in next door neighbor Rexburg, which I love and is near and dear to my heart, are either not for sale or are two to three times the price tag than what it would be to be just next door over in Sugar,” he said. “It makes more sense to me.”
MissionShoe will be relocating within Sugar City from Railroad Avenue to the business park off of Main Street. Scott’s building plan was approved by the Sugar City Council in May, but he said construction wouldn’t start until possibly July.
For more information about MissionShoe, visit Scott’s website at www.missionshoestore.com.