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Eco-friendly sandal maker expanding footprint in Garner

Raleigh-based flip-flops and sandal maker Feelgoodz is expanding its footprint to Garner.

The company — which makes eco-friendly footwear, some of which are biodegradable — broke ground on a 20,000-square-foot facility in Garner this week to make room for its quickly expanding business.

Launched in New Orleans in 2008, Feelgoodz has seen its business grow by around 30 percent every year for the past five years, thanks in part to a strong retail relationship with Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Markets. The company’s sandals range in price from $20 to $60.

The company moved to Raleigh in 2012 and established its headquarters on Wilmington Street in downtown, where it also has a retail shop.

“With all of the growth that we have seen, we have grown out of our most recent warehouse,” Feelgoodz CEO Mark Saad said. “There’s not a lot of warehouse availability in the Triangle, so we decided to build our own.”

The warehouse, which will handle distribution and customer service, will ship to more than 1,000 retail locations nationwide. The company employs around 15 people right now, but that number should rise to around 20 to 25 once the warehouse opens near the intersection of U.S. 70 and I-40. Its headcount varies with the season — flip-flops naturally get sold more in the summer months.

Saad grew up in Garner, and said the cheaper land prices in the area were a major reason the company is building in Garner.

“Prices are a little bit less when you go to southern Wake County, and there is more room” Saad said. “The lot we bought was 9 acres. There is room to expand as the company expands.”

Around 85 percent of the company’s business takes place in physical retail locations, but its online presence is growing quickly as well. The company’s online sales grew by 60 percent between 2017 and 2016, with the company seeing more activity on Amazon and its own website, Saad said.

But the company has also developed a proprietary software called Shelf that helps stores manage their inventory. The software, which the company has begun marketing more, helps stores automatically reorder products that are doing well, and has been used by Whole Foods and, in the future, Sprouts as well.

So far, only a handful of organizations have used the product, but Saad thinks the market potential is huge.

“We are projecting $300,000 in sales from licensing, but that is the only with a handful of brands using it,” he said. “We could scale this thing up … it could generate millions.”