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Quebec shoe company itching to break into retail market

Click to play video: 'Quebec company develops self-lacing shoes'
Quebec company develops self-lacing shoes
WATCH: Powerlace, a Quebec-based shoe company, is hoping to break into the retail market with its version of the self-lacing shoe. Navneet Pall reports – Jan 1, 2017

A Quebec shoe company is hoping to make it big with a new affordable technology that will make lacing up a thing of the past.

The company is called Powerlace and it’s the brainchild of Frédérick Labbé who said he came up with the idea in 2000.

“I was always asking myself ‘Why do I have to use cord or lace to tie my shoes?'” Labbé said.

It’s a shoe that may look ordinary to the naked eye, but upon closer inspection, the difference between a Powerlace and a conventional shoe quickly becomes apparent.

Aside from being self-lacing, it’s also easy to remove — all anyone has to do is push with the opposite foot on a lever, and it slips off.

In addition, Powerlace has special padding on the heel intended to make walking all the more comfortable.

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Labbé said his friends began investing in his idea in 2003. The following year he found a major investor who helped him locate a factory in China to assemble some prototypes.

All the pieces are in place for Labbé to make big waves in the retail world, there’s just one thing missing — public awareness — and that has proven to be challenging.

After a failed attempt to generate revenue by selling shoes through Kickstarter, Powerlace marketing director, David Santagata, realized one thing:

“It was the greatest challenge to sell a product to a customer who has never heard of and never seen our new technology,” Santagata said.

Powerlace adapted by going straight to major Quebec retailers and asked shoe shoppers their opinions, an exercise that proved helpful because the feedback was positive according to Santagata.

Self-lacing shoes are nothing new to consumers, Nike already unveiled its $720 electronic version.

READ MORE: Nike unveils its first self-lacing sneaker

Powerlace’s non-electronic shoe will cost consumers $179.

“The objective is not to compete with Nike or Adidas,” Labbé said. “The objective is to offer another shoe that is very easy to step into and to be offered as comfort shoes to baby boomers.”

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Labbé became interested in creating practical shoes for seniors when he showed-off one of his prototypes to a baby boomer.

“The reaction was great, he told me has a need for those shoes,” Labbé said. “It’s a pain for him to lace his shoes, [that’s when I told myself], it’s not just a cool idea, it might be something that could really help people.”

Out of his Saint-Hubert shop, Labbé, has developed several prototypes and is itching to break into the retail world, all that is missing are more investors.

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