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Pat Huber, Rainbow Sandals director of marketing, examines some old sandals that will be repaired and donated to charity. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz

Rainbow Sandals has been giving away sandals to charity since it began in the mid-1970s, but now the company is putting together a program that incentivizes people to donate back their old pair.

Pat Huber, director of marketing at Rainbow Sandals, said a discount is given to people on their next pair when they donate their old.

“We’ll give them 10 percent off a new pair, and we repair them and clean them up,” Huber said. “We give them a bag and encourage them to send back their old pairs.”

The company makes 1,000 pairs of sandals each day, its legal limit under the Environmental Protection Agency, but more are made in China. The sandals are made from leather, nylon and rubber.

“The funny thing is people will want to buy the used sandals that are already broken in,” Huber said. “Sometimes we’ll get sandals from people that didn’t fit or something was wrong. We like people to be able to send them back under our warranty. If it’s past warranty, we’ll fix them if they need to be fixed.”

The red, white and blue sandal will be part of Rainbow Sandals’ new signature line. Photo: Eric Heinz
The red, white and blue sandal will be part of Rainbow Sandals’ new signature line. Photo: Eric Heinz

Sandals are put into a tumbler in order to get rid of any bacteria. The sandals have been sent internationally to crisis areas such as Haiti and with church groups that helped people after the typhoons in the Philippians.

Jay “Sparky” Longley said he began the company after being inspired to make stable products.

“From the start, when I used to mow lawns when I was 17, I would go to the dump and drop all the cuttings off,” Longley said. “I saw things that were perfectly fine, they just needed another part. It could be furniture or anything. I wanted to make it well.”

Longley said he wanted to make products that would last. He saw a pair of sandals wash on shore in 1974 and was inspired to make footwear.

The company is also rolling out a signature series this year, starting with a red, white and blue sandal, called the Americana. Only 1,776 will be made—honoring the year of the independence of the United States.

Every so often, the company will debut a new model for their series.

The company is located at 326 Calle de los Molinos.

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