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Hot flip-flops make cool million

Scott Santy has always had a love affair with flip-flops, despite growing up in Wisconsin where the window for this type of footwear is narrow.

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Scott Santy in his flip-flop store has made a cool million.NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Scott Santy has always had a love affair with flip-flops, despite growing up in Wisconsin where the window for this type of footwear is narrow."Back home, anything over 40 degrees [and] I was in flip-flops," the 31-year-old said. Print Comment cnnad_createAd("158558","¶ms.styles=fs&page.allowcompete=yes","200","220"); So he decided to open up a flip-flop franchise called Flip Flop Shops in Wisconsin But while vacationing in Las Vegas his plans to open the franchise, well, flip-flopped "I was walking up and down the Strip and almost every person was wearing flip-flops," said Santy Later, he called up the CEO of Flip Flop Shops, Darin Kraetsch, and asked what he thought about Vegas instead.Timing was everything: It turns out Kraetsch had just met with MGM Resorts International regarding real-estate opportunities, and wanted to open a Las Vegas shopSo that's what Santy didIn July 2009, he opened Flip Flop Shops inside Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.Is this the next Snuggie?In August 2010, he passed the $1 million mark -- in part because flip-flops are hot"In the past three years, U.Sflip-flop sales have grown 8.2 percentThis accounts for $1.5 billion of U.Ssurf-wear retail sales," said Santy, a former financial adviser."The $1 million mark was exciting, especially when you can do something like that with a small shop," he said"I was opening a store at the bottom of the economy, which is really scary." Recently, Santy got a tattoo of the company's logo on top of his right foot -- and sent a photo of it to Brian Curin, the president of Flip Flop Shops"How many brands get people excited enough to get a tattoo?" asked Curin.0:00 / 2:24 Stitching a business from scratchvidConfig.push({videoArray: [{id: "video/smallbusiness/2011/09/16/hwgs_eileen_fisher.fortune"}]});Flip Flop Shops sells sandals for children, men and women starting at $20, and on up to $159 a pairFunky design details include, for women, soles made from the same cushy material as yoga matsThere are even camouflage-design sandals for men.Celebrities are among his clientele"We've had some UFC fighters that came in, as well as a few pro football and baseball players," said Santy"Many retailers at the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay have athlete autograph signingsSo you never know who will be in the mall." Despite selling flip-flops to five-star athletes, running Flip Flop Shops hasn't always been a walk in the parkOne big challenge is high real-estate prices, said Santy Another roadblock, in the beginning, was raising capital"Banks aren't lending," he said"I was very fortunate to have my parents loan me moneyOtherwise, I would not have been able to do it." The biggest hurdle running the shop is convincing customers to toss out inexpensive drugstore sandals in favor of costlier options.Santy deals with that by offering a wide variety of flip-flops He also one ups the competition by adding special touches, such as custom ordering and free shippingA vanilla-coconut scent is diffused through the shop to make customers feel as if they are at the beach, he said For men who dare to be differentFlip flops have replaced the running shoe, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with the NPD Group"It's one of the few categories that, even during the recession, continues to do well," he said"Flip-flops, from even before the girls wore them in the White House, under Bush, have been a staple item in the wardrobe."His next business venture is to open up a Ron Jon Surf Shop, which offers surfboards and other beach accessories.  First Published: November 21, 2011: 11:01 AM ET cnnad_createAd("25376","¶ms.styles=fs&page.allowcompete=yes","215","475"); Related ArticlesOrganic vodkas so hip they're Square (One) Nifty Candy grosses a million LoveBook: Love worth a million dollars Snooki Inc. cnnad_createAd("622111","¶ms.styles=fs&page.allowcompete=yes","60","475"); Most Popular What we want Apple to unveil at WWDC   Millennials squeezed out of buying a home   7 traits the rich have in common   Big Data knows you're sick, tired and depressed   Your car is a giant computer - and it can be hacked   cnnad_createAd("554462","¶ms.styles=fs","280","336"); Small Business Videos   Watch a snowboard superpipe get made   Is this the perfect bourbon?   He sells Christmas trees to Royals .glass-door .module-header {display:none;} .glass-door .column {width:33%; float:left;margin-top:10px;margin-bottom:10px;} .glass-door .column li {display: inline-block;margin-bottom: 6px;} .glass-door button#searchButton:hover {cursor: pointer;} .cnn-calculator #relatedLinks ul {width:700px !important;} Search for Jobs Search for Jobs Millions of job openings! Search Accounting Finance Marketing Engineering Management Sales Development Media See All Jobs Hot List   NBC's Brian Williams apologizes for Iraq attack story Bitcoin fallacy led to Silk Road founder's conviction   Watch a snowboard superpipe get made Coming soon: More Twitter in your Google   Richard Branson's new baby — a hotel var randomnumberA=Math.floor(Math.random()*2); // fortune content if (location.pathname.match('fortune')) document.write(''); else // moneymag homepage if (location.pathname.match('moneymag')) document.write(''); else // cnnmoney content if (randomnumberA==0) document.write(''); else if (randomnumberA==1) document.write(''); var cnnBrandingValue = "myfirstmil";var cnnAuthor = "Kristine Hansen";var cnnSource = "CNN";var cnnPublishDate = "2011-11-21";if(window.btnDone) btnDone(); function getCookie(check_name) { var a_all_cookies = document.cookie.split(';'); var a_temp_cookie = '; var ck_name = '; var cookie_value = '; var b_cookie_found = false; for ( i = 0; i 1) { cookie_value = unescape(a_temp_cookie[1].replace(/^\s+|\s+$/g, ')); } return cookie_value; break; } a_temp_cookie = null; ck_name = '; } if (!b_cookie_found) { return null; } } function setCookie(c_name, value) { var exdate = new Date(); exdate.setDate(exdate.getDate() + 365); document.cookie = c_name + "=" + escape(value) + ";expires=" + exdate.toUTCString() + ";path=/;"; return; } function checkCookie(set_value) { if (getCookie('SelectedEdition') == null || getCookie('SelectedEdition') == "") { setCookie('SelectedEdition', set_value); } return; } try { checkCookie('www'); } catch(e) { } Contact Us Advertise with Us User Preferences Closed Captioning Content Business Markets Investing Economy Tech Personal Finance Small Business Luxury Media Video Tools Site Map Interactive Portfolio Job Search Real Estate Search Loan Center Calculators

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