Local company ready for summer, National Flip Flop Day

Sandals and flip flops like the ones shown here will be part of Okabashi’s sale on Friday, which is National Flip Flop Day. (Photo: Steve Argo)

Sandals and flip flops like the ones shown here will be part of Okabashi’s sale on Friday, which is National Flip Flop Day. (Photo: Steve Argo)

BUFORD – If you check the calendar closely, y0u’ll find nearly every day of the year is dedicated to a special cause or recognition of something unique.

Friday happens to be National Flip Flop Day, which has the folks at locally-owned and operated shoe manufacturer Okabashi Brands in a good mood. The day — founded by Tropical Smoothie Café to benefit Camp Sunshine — comes on the eve of the first day of summer – the summer solstice – which starts on Saturday.

So Okabashi decided to celebrate National Flip Flop Day with a factory sale on Friday that will feature hundreds of clearance styles with prices as low as $5.

The celebration sale, which will take place in the parking lot of Okabashi’s 100,000-square-foot factory and administrative offices on Roy Carlson Blvd. just off Buford Highway, runs from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

“A lot of people don’t know we’re here in Buford and Gwinnett County,” Okabashi marketing director Katie May said. “So we’re excited about getting our name out there with this first sale right here at the factory on Friday.

“We’ll also be giving away 10 percent of our proceeds to the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which is an organization that helps children get court-appointed advocates to protect their rights and needs. So that is a great cause we’re involved in with this event.”

Founded by Bahman Irvani in 1984, Okabashi is a family-owned business that has focused on designing and manufacturing extremely comfortable shoes, primarily flip flops and sandals.

In addition to being made in the United States, Okabashi shoes are dishwasher safe, recyclable, designed with a messaging insole for optimum comfort and is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.

The eco-conscious company also proudly claims that new products rolling off the assembly line contain 25 percent of its own recycled material.

Okabashi encourages its customers to return their well-worn Okabashi shoes to their factory for recycling and receive a 15 percent discount coupon on a new pair.

It also helps that Okabashi stands behind every pair of shoes – more than two million annually and more than 25 million over the 30-year span – that it manufactures with a two-year guarantee.

Available online as well as places like Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens, Okabashi also prides itself in using American products to not only manufacture its shoes, but also to package and ship the shoes.

In fact, each pair of shoes produced at the Buford factory carries the Okabashi label that features the “Made in the USA” label.

Just two percent of shoes that are bought in the U.S. are manufactured in this country, which makes Okabashi a rarity in a mass-production industry.

“This is extremely important to have a company like Okabashi right here in Buford,” Okabashi director of manufacturing Chuck Headrick said. “Our flip flops affect so many other small businesses in Georgia and all around the United States. The raw materials that go into them are sourced domestically. When you buy a pair of flip flops, you’re supporting Okabashi. But you’re also supporting other U.S. businesses.

“The more we can buy domestically, the stronger our economy will become.”

Depending on the time of the year, Okabashai employs between 100 and 200 workers.

Peak season will begin to crank up in August and the factory eventually runs at 100 percent throughout the fall and winter as the company meets the demands of the holiday season and the upcoming spring/summer seasons.

In 2005, Okabashi also created the Oka B line of shoes that is prominent in spas, resorts and boutiques.

Carried in more than 5,000 locations worldwide, including locally at Chateau Elan, Oka B was founded on the principle that fashion and comfort should never be mutually exclusive.

So Okabashi came up with the Oka B line that now includes slides, thongs, heels and flats in a multitude of colors.