HOLMDEL — Larry Paparo, president and CEO of Floafers, the famed maker of floating foam moccasins, doesn’t have far to travel from his headquarters to his new flagship store.
Both are located in Bell Works, the historic former Bell Labs building that has been transformed into an office and retail center.
Last summer, Paparo moved Floafers headquarters to Bell Works. On Wednesday, with officials from Holmdel and Bell Works owner Somerset Development, he celebrated the opening of the Floafers concept store, located next to Jersey Freeze.
Founded via a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, Floafers makes foam loafers for men, women, and kids. The breathable casual shoes, made with antimicrobial EVA foam, have mini pads for comfort and a rubber outsole. “You can wear it day to night, from the boardroom to the beach,” Paparo said. In all its lines, the Floafers are available in 150 colors with patterns also available.
“A lot of people have been dressing up since working from home,” Paparo said. “We were able to evolve during this time when it was difficult for others.”
Floafers has made its mark by selling online and in retail stores. “We are fresh and different,” he said. “The consumer is really embracing it.”
Now Floafers has its own concept store, leasing 900 square feet from Bell Works. “The store has a modern look,” Paparo said.
The store helps tell the story of the Floafers brand, he said. Located near his offices, it also allows Paparo to see how customers react to Floafers. The company may also test new products, he said.
“I can listen directly to the consumer and see what they’re saying,” Paparo said.
Ralph Zucker, chairman of Somerset Development, said a Floafers store is suitable for Bell Works.
“They saw the activity, the life that was here,” Zucker said. “They said, ‘You know what. We would like to open a retail store here. “”
The floats will bring people to Bell Works, Zucker said. “People will come here to shop at Floafers,” he said, adding, “Their brand is so successful.”
David P. Willis, an award-winning business writer, has covered business and consumer news at the Asbury Park Press for more than 20 years. He writes APP.com’s What’s Going There and Press on Your Side columns and can be reached at [email protected] Join his What’s Going There page on Facebook for updates.