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Monday, July 13, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Because International launches kickstarter campaign for retail shoes

A sample of new designs destined for the domestic market at GroFive Shoes in Nampa on July 5. (Brian Myrick / Idaho Press-Tribune)
A sample of new designs destined for the domestic market at GroFive Shoes in Nampa on July 5. (Brian Myrick / Idaho Press-Tribune)
By Erin Bamer Idaho Press-Tribune

NAMPA — Because International, a local nonprofit that makes and distributes growing shoes for children in need around the world, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a retail version of their shoe, called “Expandals.”

Kenton Lee, who founded Because International in 2009, and organization president Andrew Kroes decided to start a for-profit branch of their nonprofit, called GroFive, to develop a shoe for sale in the U.S. after people started approaching them over the last three years asking where they could buy their shoes for their children or themselves.

“You’ve asked for this,” Kroes said. “Here’s your opportunity.”

Because International has developed more than 120,000 pairs of sandals, called “The Shoe That Grows,” which have been distributed to children in more than 90 countries.

The Kickstarter campaign for GroFive will allow people to pre-purchase and reserve the retail shoes starting today through Because International’s website. Kroes said their goal is to reach $10,000 over 35 days, which will help pay for inventory and other costs to help start their company. Prices will range from $38 up to about $49, depending on when people place their orders. Kroes said the earlier a customer makes their order, the cheaper the price will be.

Kroes said they will place their first order later in the year and expect the shoes to be delivered in the spring of 2019.

While the shoe targeted school-aged children with growing feet, the newly designed shoes for GroFive will fit a range of customers, from toddlers to grown men. The new shoe, Kroes said, is both more functional and fashionable, providing a better fit for the wearer.

The original design has undergone a series of changes over the years, but for the GroFive version, the design was overhauled, Kroes said.

Lee said the Kickstarter site will also feature options to donate directly to Because International, and to purchase The Shoe That Grows for distribution in other countries. He said people can also donate larger amounts to earn a trip to Haiti or a trip to Kenya with Lee.

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