I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty. ~ Imelda Marcos
If you read my site you know I have an established disdain for location events. So when Sax asked me to blog Shoetopia, I responded with a sound that was something between wet cat getting its tail pulled and lazy baboon burping after chugging a whole can of Sunkist (in my world, monkeys drink too much orange soda … possibly because I just now finished one). To be honest, I agreed because I figured he’d never be able to get me in.
The ever-tolerant Sophia Harlow allowed me in for the blogger preview for reasons known only to her. I’m not 100% sure who was all involved in the organization of Shoetopia (aside from Sophia, the names I see most associated with it are Anessa Stine and Katya Valeska) but I have to say they have made it very hard to find complaint with their efforts.
And it’s not like I don’t try to find things to complain about.
I am not wild about the build (possibly because it reminds me too much of the dreaded Vortex Pinnacle), but it’s quite photogenic, as can be seen in Joonie’s shot above. You can browse even more great shots in the Shoetopia Flickr Group.
However, at an event the build style is always less important to me than other factors, and in those, Shoetopia gets gold stars. Several of them. The layout is easy to navigate; unless you’re a moron it’s impossible to get turned around or lost for more than a moment. Direct-to-shop teleports are enabled. Fly is enabled. There isn’t a whore’s cabinet full of unnecessary scripts or textures to stroke someone’s build ego. The build simply provides a neutral backdrop to the shopping experience without trying to be too cute for its own good.
What a novel concept.
Shoetopia’s organizers have decided that quality is better than quantity. Can I get a hallelujah? Not only are most, if not all, of the major shoe designers represented, but all the merchandise I saw was at (or above) general quality. There were no skunks at the garden party. None. Seriously. When is the last time you went to an event and there weren’t a gaggle of vendors that were selling recycled products from 2008?
Yes, there will always be some designers that are better than others, but there is nothing offered up at Shoetopia that isn’t on par with current design standards.
I didn’t even know that was possible.
There are guy shoes, cute shoes, novelty shoes (ugh), and, of course, the stripper shoes that now appear to be the choice of bloggers the grid over. No matter your style, you’re probably going to find something to make your toes happy.
Oh. And there are a few gachas. More on that in other entries.
The charity associated with Shoetopia is Soles4Souls. The not-for-profit defines its mission as:
The organization advances its anti-poverty mission by collecting new and used shoes and clothes from individuals, schools, faith-based institutions, civic organizations and corporate partners, then distributing those shoes and clothes both via direct donations to people in need and by provisioning qualified micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities.
It’s hard to argue with those objectives.
While I don’t generally participate in charity within Second Life, I don’t look at my purchases as donations, really. For me, I am just a shopper. If I purchase items linked to a charity, it is the creator that is making the donation. Their time and effort went into making the item; I’m simply getting cute shoes.
But if you’re someone who feels you are making the donation by getting cute shoes, every single vendor is required to have at least one 100% donation item at Shoetopia. Many I saw had more than one, or offered a few 50% or 25% donation items in addition to their 100% items.
I didn’t see a lot of the usual “here is the ugliest color in the batch as my donation item” yuckiness, either. Most of the vendors that were up in time for the blogger preview had great merch as their donations and many had gone above the event requirements to provide multiple offerings.
From what I can tell, the little elves behind Shoetopia have done everything right. They have made an easy to navigate build that is shopper friendly. They have taken a hard line against copyright infringement (instead of talking big and then wussing out like so many other event coordinators). They have set up a demo group. They have provided maps and direct URLs. They’ve kept quality high without limiting the designer list to just the recycled handful of people we see at all the monthlies.
If all events were like Shoetopia, I’d like them more.
Go forth, my children and find thee shoes!