weird commerce

Weird Commerce: Throx, The Battle Against The Sock Monster

It’s the law of the universe: Throw a pair of socks in the dryer, and only one comes out.

“I know for a fact that there is some kind of sock monster, and that’s why I invented Throx,” said Edwin Heaven, who came up with the idea in 2003 when he was doing his laundry and one of his favorite socks disappeared. “And I thought, well, they have a spare tire for cars when you get a flat tire, so why doesn’t anyone have an extra sock?”

Throx are colorful socks that come in threes, just like the slogan says: Three socks for when you lose one, three socks for the price of two, three socks last longer than two. He originally brought them around to boutique stores — most of them immediately loved them — and sold them online.

“It’s the cure for the missing sock,” said Heaven, who acknowledges that, if you buy two Throx, you have three pairs of socks. “But you’re actually getting a free pair.”

And that’s the idea at the core, he said. “But I’ve now created a small little uprising, as people love getting something extra for their money.” He said America needs more companies that provide added value to consumers.

Sure, we take socks for granted, but he said his target audience — more than 40,000 individuals strong — get it. Those that don’t, he just shrugs: “That’s OK.”

That outlook is helpful, especially after his experience of being asked to be a contestant on ABC’s “Shark Tank” back in 2008. Avid fans of the show may remember Heaven from his presentation. He said he never even watched an episode before coming on the show. Ultimately, the Sharks grilled him and were none too kind to him — from calling him names based on his appearance, to critiquing the brand as a “novelty,” to all five Sharks declining to invest in the business.

“There was a comment by one of the Sharks about if Throx was just a novelty that you buy ‘two or three of’ around Christmas for stockings and never again,” said Heaven, who added that the show edited out his response to the comment, which was: “If you buy two or three and everyone in America buys two or three, we’re still looking at $12 million to $14 million dollars for your investment … But they cut that out.”

He said his rebuttal against the novelty notion is that, while customers may take their time purchasing again thanks to the spare sock, when they do, they purchase Throx for their family, friends and significant others. “It’s almost like they had that experience, and they want to share it with others.”

He said that, on the one hand, he thinks he should have walked in to the Tank differently — “Maybe with only one sock on” — but on the other hand, the experience wasn’t about the money.

“I knew going in that I might not walk out with money or a Shark, but just wanted to show my product,” said Heaven. “And there are a lot of other businesses on the show that do that.”

Getting “press” or “exposure” from the show is indeed what many companies go on “Shark Tank” for. But many people may not get the unkind treatment he said he’s received from the in-person and internet “trolls.”

“When [a Shark] called me a cockroach or vampire, [the show] didn’t air my response,” said Heaven. “They made it look like I would allow someone to address me that way.”

That said, he quickly added: “But you never give up.”

And he hasn’t. In fact, it’s not his full-time job — he’s a screenwriter by trade — and yet, the business has been churning out socks in threes now for 13 years.

“I’ve never taken out an ad. I’ve had famous people contact me from Justin Bieber to Jack White,” said Heaven. “Even First Lady Michelle Obama apparently bought some of the ‘You Got A Spare’ bowling Throx for the president.”

He said the business has had a life of its own and certainly does get extra attention around Christmas as add-on gifts and stocking stuffers. But at the same time, it may just be a good idea because of the simple fact that most of us indeed take socks for granted. Nevertheless, he said, it’s been a constant learning process — no matter how simple the idea seems.

“It was crawl, walk, then a run. When I started, I didn’t know what I was doing. I tell people to never give up,” said Heaven. “When you come up with a bright idea, a great idea, if you like it, that’s what counts.“

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