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February 01, 2005

Roots rant.

When you say "McDonalds" the odds are the country you think of is the U.S. (After you think that their new slogan "I'm Lovin' it!" should really be "We're killing you slowly!") My point is that all countries have iconic brands that are unique to their country and their culture. In Canada the brand probably most recognized after Tim Hortons is Roots.

Roots was started by two Americans in 1973 in Toronto. Don Green and Michael Budman managed to capture the spirit of the outdoors from their summers spent at camps in the Tamakwa-Algonquin Provincial park. The company began selling shoes and has since grown into a company that employs over 2000 people across the globe and may be among the world's most recognized international brands.

I have a passionate, up and down, roller coaster like relationship with Roots. I'll sum it up this way: Sometimes itís like dating a woman whose very presence causes the hair on your arms to stand up when sheís near you from the sheer physical heat she generates inside of you. Other times Roots is like a harsh mistress whose sleek, wanton and cruel ways cut you to the quick but whose sensuality draws you back every time despite the fact that you know exactly whatís going to happen. All of it is heady and intoxicating and when you realize that Root's first store actually employed Dan Akroyd as a shoe salesman for a while it almost makes sense. Not completely but almost.

I discovered Roots shortly before moving to Canada. (It came up as a part of my research into where I was going to be living.) Fabulous Babe on the other hand was years ahead of me and her closet had more than a few pieces including the very first Olympic black beret. Itís testimony to how good a brand it is when I can tell you that it was only after her first Roots t-shirt had a gaping hole in the underarm that she considered getting rid of it.

Jack has a pile of Roots gear. Mrs. Canadian Hotness, my Canadian Sister, El Jefe, Miss Thing and all the rest have contributed Roots products to his wardrobe. You only have to go through the archives and youíll see half the boyís attire probably came from one of their stores. (Here's a great one.) Their clothes are that good and thatís the great part of the relationship. Thatís the part that draws you back to their line again and again. Roots clothes and products are well thought out and well made.

The downside of Roots? Some might rightfully point out that Roots saves all the really great looking Olympic outfits for Canada but I canít really blame them for that. *chuckle* How about the exclusive agreement with Sears.ca that prevents them from shipping anything to the U.S.? (Thatís a biscuit burner for sure.) That last one does seem to go hand in hand with the Roots website being a little slow on updates. (ďHey the new line is up but wait! Itís sold out already!Ē) Alas that isnít even it.

No gentle readers my currently stinging cheek comes from the slap I received because of the Roots line of licensed Toronto Maple Leaf products that a Roots store employee referred me to the website to purchase. That's when I discovered that the Roots Toronto Maple Leaf line doesnít appear on the Roots website. Anywhere. *sigh*

I've managed to secure a long sleeve t-shirt for Fabulous Babe, and a fleece top for us to share. Jack on the other hand will be shivering in the cold as I have yet to see the entire line. It's rumored to include a great pair of sweat pants with "Leafs" over the backside and a childs sweater with a huge Maple Leafs logo.

I realize Iím not as saavy as those Pets.com fellows were but in my various professional experiences with all things .com Iíve come to understand that to make more money you should try to have fewer obstacles in your customerís path to your door. In theory something that actually shows me whatís available might be to the companies benefit as well. (Perhaps I should stay away from the obvious since such scary and uncharted territory could unsettle small children.) A current selection of products would also strike me as a plus.

See that picture of my son from the morning? Can you honestly explain why it should be difficult for me to get him Roots TML attire? I donít have an explanation. The harsh mistress is back and now sheís got a riding crop. Ugh.

Hey Don and Mike, do me a favor. Walk into one of your stores and then compare the experience to your website. Itís clever and uses Flash and it's trendy as can be. If someone wants to spend money and contribute to your bottom line itís about as useful as one of those vapid, blonde, 20 something clerks at Whistler that couldnít manage to count out our change. Open the full Roots catalog to the world and our wallets will follow. Honest! Heck I'll even give you a link over on the left. (For a reasonable price.)


The sometimes loved, sometimes mistreated, always love the product, Roots wearing Jim

Posted by Jim at February 1, 2005 07:05 AM


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