Making a Positive Difference, Together (2024)

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Rack Room Shoe’s mission statement, “the company must serve the people,” succinctly encapsulates the retailer’s philanthropy-driven, consumer-first sustainability strategy – and the family footwear retailer advances its efforts through embracing new initiatives with like-minded partners and leading by example.

For Rack Room Shoes, it’s a holistic dedication to making the world a better place for all that has driven creating, developing and supporting programs. With strategic ESG goals and targets to evolve products and sustainable processes, the retailer’s position is impacted by both its community and consumers’ active adherence to social responsibility. Brenda Christmon, Senior Director of Brand Communications at Rack Room Shoes, shared that as the company has watched consumers becoming increasingly conscious of the impact they have on the environment, they are looking for brands that align with these values. The shift, she said has led to increased sustainable behaviors such as recycling, upcycling and reducing waste. “As a company, we are integrating more sustainable products and practices, as more customers adopt earth-friendly practices.”

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Moreover, as a retailer that works with brands striving to achieve their own ESG goals, Christmon said it is important to provide the end consumer with ongoing thoughtfulness toward sustainability throughout the shopping journey. They consider partnerships a key part of Rack Room Shoe’s overall ESG program, both as part of the company’s strategy and how they can impact the overall experience.

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“By working with other organizations, we can collaborate on sustainability initiatives, share best practices, and create a greater impact,” said Christmon. “Along with chain-wide conservation efforts, our partnerships with Sneaker Impact and brand partners like Nike, Adidas, Teva and Birkenstock, are helping us to achieve our sustainability goals and make a positive difference in the world. We work with many brand partners to offer eco-friendly products and adopt sustainable practices to create a bigger impact. It’s important to move through this journey alongside our brand partners, as we can collectively work towards sustainability goals.”

Further, she said, given its position, Rack Room Shoes recognizes the important role it plays in promoting sustainable practices to customers and sharing how they can help.

Through Rack Room Shoe’s new initiative with recycling partner Sneaker Impact, customers are encouraged to participate in reducing waste across the company’s footprint by donating gently worn sneakers. Participants can place the shoes in a collection box at any Rack Room Shoes location. Notably, Rack Room Shoes spans more than 500 communities and 36 states. Sneaker Impact will collect and upcycle the donated shoes throughout the year and ship them to developing countries around the globe, providing footwear to people in need while also creating jobs in the marketplace. Importantly, the initiative further supports Rack Room Shoe’s national non-profit partner Shoes That Fit by donating $1 to the charity for every pair of shoes donated. Rack Room Shoes has maintained a 15-year partnership with Shoes That Fit, which provides new footwear to children in need.

“Our partnership with Sneaker Impact is a significant step in our ongoing efforts for increased sustainability practices,” said Christmon. “The program is helping us to reduce waste, promote sustainability and create positive social impact. By working together, we are providing convenient and ethical solutions for our customers and communities while building economic opportunities for developing countries.”

Rack Room Shoe’s initial test of the Sneaker Impact program took place in five Charlotte-area stores to great success. The company was able to collect and recycle athletic shoes which results in reducing waste and creating a positive impact in the community. According to their store managers, consumers were eager to participate in sustainability initiatives and are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact.

The in-store test was successful in promoting a positive attitude towards sustainability among both managers and consumers, with Christmon saying, “it’s been encouraging for us to see the enthusiasm and support of our customers towards our sustainability efforts.” The goal for the first year of the partnership is to ship 1 box per store, per month to Sneaker Impact for a total of 6,240 boxes. Each box holds approximately 30 pairs adding up to 187,200 pairs of shoes collected. If the goal is met, Rack Room Shoe’s customers will have saved about 12,580 cubic feet of landfill space this year.

With its rich history of helping those in need, Rack Room Shoes sees its partnership as having great movement in educating locally for global benefit. In the future, Rack Room Shoes looks forward to progressing its ESG goals and continuing to spread awareness of the many benefits of upcycling gently used sneakers.

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Making a Positive Difference, Together (2024)
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