Riding the pandemic bull: How to land on your feet.

Adam Thompson jumped in with both feet when he started Friday Sock Co. in 2015. He took his love of colourful footwear and turned it into a $1 million a year business with more than 400 retail partners in Canada and the United States. Adam’s mismatched sock designs run the gamut from bacon and eggs, red grapes and wine, barley and beer, to sailboats and anchors. Each pair tells a story, and his unique designs also bring attention to local causes, including KidSport and The Calgary Food Bank.

Adam continues to create sock collections that help charities who have been struggling for donations during the pandemic. He says now is not the time for cold feet – innovation is the best way to keep you on your toes.

Adam Thompson – Friday Sock Co.

What has been your biggest challenge during this time?

The biggest challenge for us was pivoting our mindset and understanding that this was just another challenge for us. We have to use our entrepreneurial spirit to navigate our way through it and hopefully come out on the other side. It was really about trying to realign that mindset in the face of adversity. 

How have you been able to innovate your way out of the pandemic so far?

Our e-commerce has increased by 30% across the board. We discovered that people who wouldn’t typically buy online soon became comfortable with purchasing from our website. We had rented a new 7,000 square foot warehouse space earlier in the year, and then the pandemic happened. We added a new pickup option that we never offered to our customers before, and I bought a remote control vehicle and attached a blue basket to it. We held an Instagram contest to name him, and the winning entry was ‘Curbie’ (the Curbside Wonder). He became our star attraction! People started bringing their kids with them to pick up their orders. The kids would get out of the car to meet Curbie, but I would purposely have him circle around to see their reaction. The kids would then yell at him, and he would eventually loop back to their car. It was fun to see the smiles on their faces. People shared their experiences on their Instagram, and this had a positive impact on our company.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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How have you been able to use that network to help others?

When the pandemic hit, the first thing we did was figure out how we could help others, particularly the city’s most vulnerable.  More Calgarians were needing to access the Food Bank, so we designed socks with toilet paper on one and hand sanitizer on the other. We gave 100% of the proceeds to the Calgary Food Bank, and Food Banks Canada raised more than $43,000.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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We also endeavour to support local businesses. When we buy coffee and supplies for the office, we buy local. When we buy soap for the office bathrooms, we buy local. When things opened up again in the spring, we launched the Weekday Store (a retail concept inside our warehouse) and immediately bought a bunch of products to support our friends who owned Calgary-based companies. Our first thought is always ‘hey, let’s see how we can help each other.’

What have you learned about your customers and clients during this period?

We learned that in the face of adversity, people want to spread joy. That became evident with our line of health care socks. We held a promotion where we donated a second pair to a frontline care worker for every pair sold. It was a huge success. People wanted to show their support and show their love for one another in the face of everything that’s happened.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Friday Socks Mismatched Socks (@fridaysockco) on

 

What advice would you give to small businesses right now who are struggling?

I would tell small business owners that now is the time to brainstorm new ideas. Innovate and try something new. If it works, great, see what else you can do. Take as much action as you can, and become impossible to ignore.

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