Simple ideas and a plan

Nothing compares to a long, peaceful, drive across this beautiful country of ours in the early spring visiting friends and family.

For me, the road trip I made in March 2012 was even more pleasurable because I was behind the wheel of my 1976 Pontiac Le Mans Sport Coupe. 

Despite the gas prices, it is truly a great highway driver.  You are alone with your thoughts as the miles drift one into another.  It was old school.  My classic’s odometer shows miles not kilometers.  

Since the trip was made to launch the Soles4Soles Canada campaign in both Ottawa and Montreal, I was able to spend many hours walking through the Soles4Soles journey over the past 3 years. 

We agreed to pursue three directions

In the spring of 2009 Jim Belshaw and I sat down for our regular weekly business discussion.  Jim owns In Roy’s Shoes in Kelowna, BC.  The topic was marketing and what could be done to raise the profile of Roy’s Shoes in the community. We developed three ideas.

  1. The Okanagan’s Big Foot Contest, which was a major success and gained national attention in the fall of 2009 for Roy’s shoes.  The winner was a young guy with size 19.5’s.  He was awarded a pair of custom made shoes.  
  2. The Motorcycle ride for Dad, which Jim and his store are still involved with every year.  It’s an annual fundraiser for prostate cancer research.
  3. The third idea was a little thing called Soles4Souls.

We did not know a lot about the organization called Soles4Souls.  Jim had done some research on the web and wanted my opinion. When I checked out their website, I liked the idea immediately.  They already had marketing materials available and it seemed like such a simple idea.

Since its inception in 2004, Soles4Souls has distributed over 17 million pairs of donated shoes, mostly gently used.  It has responded to more than 40 natural disasters worldwide with crisis relief aid, including Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the Japan earthquake, and the Alabama and Missouri tornadoes in 2011. With 1 in 4 people around the world living in poverty, the shoe charity also assists individuals living in developing nations, along with the U.S. and Canada, who cannot afford shoes.

A plan for Soles4Souls Kelowna was developed for the spring of 2010.  We called it “25,000 Shoes in 25 Days”. We had one thought…..this is either a great idea or a complete bust. From our research we knew that shoes had been collected in Canada but mostly in the couple hundred range.

We were talking a whole different ball game!!!

As the campaign took off we knew we were in over our heads.  We simply were not ready for how the public responded.  We had hit a hot button.  People were showing up with green garbage’s full of shoes.  The collection boxes were overflowing all over the Okanagan valley and we had to arrange pick up of the shoes immediately at many locations. We were so naive we didn’t even have a facility to warehouse the shoes to be sorted.  Now we had to transport the shoes to Nevada for Soles4Souls headquarters to distribute. With the help of local radio personality Phil Johnson, Jim got the message out. We were able to secure not only a driver and a semi, but also the $2500.00 for transportation costs.

In that first year a community of 140,000 people donated over 40,000 pairs of shoes. For over 5 months we became media darlings with both local and national exposure for Jim Belshaw and Roy’s Shoes.

The Million Shoe Mission

With the success of 2010 we decided to do it again in 2011.  The year two program was expanded throughout the interior of BC and was re-branded as “The Million Shoe Mission”.  At final count, 60,000 pairs of shoes were collected.

In the spring of 2011, I approached Jim with the idea of taking the campaign national. I was expanding my company, Floodlight Business Solutions Group across Canada and I felt we could take Soles4Soles Canada-wide within 3 years. Jim approached Soles4Souls headquarters in the USA and they gave us their blessing. 

In early 2011 we launched our new website www.Soles4SoulsCanada.com.  And now, we are proud to announce that this year as part of “The Million Shoe Mission”, we will be collecting shoes in Alberta, British Columbia , Ontario and Quebec. Our national goal for this year is 400,000 pairs of shoes. The long-term goal is to have April declared as Soles4Soles Month in Canada. The Million Shoe Mission will eventually be active in every province and Territory.  Within 10 years, we hope to collect over 13 million pairs of shoes across this great country of ours.

The weekly business planning meeting

I often share this story with business owners when discussing their marketing plans. There are no bad ideas!  The fail occurs when ideas are not written down, assessed and prioritized.  Of course, only the better ones are implemented.

At Floodlight, we believe that the weekly business meeting is an essential routine, a time to look forward and formulate plans and ideas. It’s the opportunity to actually work on your business instead of in the business.

The best ideas are the simple ones

You must have an hour a week set aside in your calendar for discussion and reflection. By making a commitment of time, you will soon be well on your way to Building Your Business. 

Sometimes a simple idea may take you on a road trip right across the country.

If you're interested in supporting Soles4Souls' in Canada, let me encourage you to visit www.soles4soulscanada.com   to find the nearest shoe drop-off location.

We are also accepting cash donations to support Canada’s Million Shoe Mission.

For additional information please contact:

Western Canada

Jim Belshaw

Director Western Canada

Soles4Souls Canada

1627 Ellis Street, Kelowna, V1Y2A8




Eastern Canada

Donald J.L. Robichaud

Director Eastern Canada

Soles4Souls Canada

[email protected]

613- 466-0416 or 1-888-768-9415


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About the Author

Andrew Gregson, BA, MA, M.Sc. (Econ), holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Andrew's experience working with an international business consultancy and being a business owner for 15 years was the impetus for his book "Pricing Strategies for Small Businesses". He brings his expertise in finance, pricing and debt restructuring to the table to help struggling manufacturing and service companies to return to profitability. This has helped companies to rebuild value and often to sell at much higher dollar values.

Andrew has contributed to trade journals, "Spark" on CBC National Radio and has been a guest speaker at business networking groups, colleges, universities on his topics of expertise - pricing, exit plans and debt. He is also a frequent contributor to blogs and online postings for business help.

Andrew is currently the President, Board Of Directors intent Financial Inc., his role is overseeing intent Financial Inc., Intent Investment Corporation and other related ventures.


Website link:  www.intentfinancials.com

Contact e-mail address:   [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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