By STEVEN NALLEY
The TOMS Mystery Box at Reed’s in Starkville is 7 feet tall, 16 inches thick and weighs 70 pounds. Even now, few at TOMS know what’s inside, let alone anyone at Reed’s. Manager Bo Summerford doesn’t even have the key to its padlock or know the name of the TOMS representative who does.
“They’re trying to keep this under wraps as much as they can for us,” Summerford said.
On Tuesday, June 7, at 12:30 p.m., a TOMS representative will open the Mystery Box at Reed’s, revealing what the TOMS website calls “the Next Chapter of One for One.” The box is one of 90 that will be opened simultaneously at locations around the country.
TOMS uses a one-for-one model to give away one pair of its shoes to children in need for every pair of shoes it sells. The TOMS website says the company is now making a move to become more than a shoe company, and Summerford said one of the only things TOMS has told him for certain is that its new product has nothing to do with shoes.
Once the box opens, Summerford said, the product inside will be available for purchase immediately. While Summerford has not received details about reordering the product yet, he said Reed’s will be able to reorder when the box’s stock runs out, making it one of few stores carrying the new TOMS product.
“That’s where we’re really fortunate — only mystery box locations are going to get to sell it until October,” Summerford said. “That’s another reason to come on June 7 ... so you can be the first to own one of whatever it is.”
Summerford said he is uncertain how TOMS selected Reed’s as a Mystery Box location. With several other locations around town and around Mississippi selling TOMS shoes, Summerford said Reed’s is fortunate to have the extra attention.
“From what our sales representative said, it was kind of luck of the draw, but they also wanted them in high-traffic areas,” Summerford said. “I feel it was placed here because of the college.”
Reed’s has carried TOMS shoes since 2007, Summerford said, and it has sold significantly more since TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie spoke at Mississippi State University in February, 2010, as part of Delta Gamma’s Dorothy Garrett Martin Lectureship in Values and Ethics.
“I would say it’s skyrocketed,” Summerford said. “I feel like the main factor of it is the ‘One for One’ movement. I like the whole concept Blake’s trying to get across, that it’s not about the box, it’s about the whole ‘One for One’ thing itself.”
Of the 90 locations in America hosting TOMS Mystery Boxes, 30 are Nordstrom stores, and Reed’s in Starkville is the only store in Mississippi, according to the event’s Facebook page.
The Mystery Box isn’t actually TOMS’ first time expanding its “One for One” model beyond shoes. TOMS’ website also has T-shirts, hoodies, caps and necklaces for sale, and Elizabeth Allen, TOMS retail coordinator for the Southeast, said those items are also “One for One.”
She also said even many TOMS employees are in the dark about the Mystery Box’s contents.
“I won’t find out what it is until the day prior,” Allen said. “There is a mystery team at HQ that works in a sectioned off area. TOMS is doing a great job of keeping it a secret, but I’m sure whatever it is will be loved by TOMS fans.”
Until the box opens, Reed’s is holding a contest where visitors can guess the box’s contents for the chance to win discounts. Summerford said some details of the contest, such as who wins if no one guesses exactly right and what products will be discounted, are still being ironed out.
Drop boxes for guesses are available in both the Starkville and Columbus Reed’s stores, Summerford said, and more than 100 guesses have already come in.
“We’ve had people guess such things as jewelry and purses,” Summerford said. “Somebody guessed it was an umbrella. We’ve definitely had a lot of people guess.”