Introducing the minimal foot shop: Anyones Barefoot Shop.

Around the world there are a few shoe shops that are specialized in minimal shoes. In a series of interviews Toesalad wants to introduce some of them to you. This interview will be with Anyones Barefoot Shop, a Dutch shop and web shop that only sells barefoot shoes. At Anyones we spoke to Paul and Ans who are the founders of this shop in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Anyones - Paul and Ans
Paul and Ans

Can you tell us something about Anyones Barefootshop?

Anyones Barefootshop specializes in barefoot style shoes, 99.9% of them being zero drop, flat and with flexible soles which only provide protection and allow human feet to function naturally. We practice what we preach and advice how to use them when running, walking or any indoor or outdoor use. Paul and Ans have been running four times a week all year around for the past six years now

How and why did you start up Anyones?

We are both runners and experienced a lot of injuries in the past. In 2009 I discovered the book Born to run which opened my eyes, just before my first marathon in 2009 on regular running shoes. I was still afraid of going barefoot and wanted to finish my first before I turned 50. While reading I wanted to feel and know more about barefoot and barefoot style running. I started experimenting with this technique. Nine months later I finished my second marathon but this time with a shoe of the lowest category soles (2,5mm) from Feelmax. I experienced a lot of foot pain during this marathon but managed to finish and recovered fast compared to the first marathon. Since that 2010 barefoot style marathon I never used shoes with cushioning and drop. All my shoes are zero drop now.

Which brands and what kind of shoes do you offer?

At the moment we are official dealer of: Vibram FiveFingers, Vivobarefoot, Solerunner, Lems and a small collection of Merrell Barefoot, New Balance Minimus Road, ZEMgear and Feelmax. We see the shoe as a sort of protection, as thin as possible, allowing the foot to perform what it does best, supporting the human body while traveling at any speed.

Where do your customers come from and which kind of shoe do they buy most?

The majority of our customers come from all over the Netherlands and an increasing number from Belgium and Germany. Most of them know what they want. They all start with running shoes and after a few months... ...they come back for casual shoes.

What is your best selling shoe?

Vibram Fivefingers sell best, also because of the large collection.

Do you see a trend in minimalist shoes? What do you expect for the future?

We avoid the term minimalist shoes because it's not always the real thing, we prefer barefoot style shoes meaning that the shoe must allow the foot to function naturally: The sole as thin and flexible as possible and it must have a zero drop sole. When traction or extra protection is wanted or needed there are a few extra options.

What is your own favorite shoe?

It depends on where I run or walk. The VFF Bikila Evo is my favorite model followed by Merrell Vapor Gloves, Solerunner FX trainers and ZEMgear TerraTech.

Which shoe do you think deserves more attention?

ALL barefoot style shoes need more attention, but the big brands of traditional running shoes have bigger budgets to promote their concept. Our goal is to promote natural movement with less problems.

Did you ever have customers in your shop that wanted to buy cushioned, supported shoes and what did you tell and sell them?

Sure we do. Sometimes it's better to start in between, let's say a New Balance Minimus, but we always mention the downside of a transition shoe as well.

How big is minimalist running and hiking in the Netherlands?

I'm not sure but we know that for the past 5 years the trend is still going up! And once your body is adapted there's no way back, so in time barefoot or barefoot style running will become a real trend in the Netherlands and hopefully one day "mainstream". At the moment I use about five types of shoes all year round. In the time before I was a barefoot style runner I had two pairs :-).

There are four shops and web shops currently in the Netherlands selling only minimal shoes. That means there is a lot of competition. All the shops are cooperating though. This resulted in the first Barefoot Evenement. Can you tell us how this event started and did it meet its expectations?

Anyones Barefootshop whas the first back then and still is the only one with a 100% zero drop shoe collection. The other shops followed later and we are fine with that, we even cooperate though. This resulted in the first Barefoot Event 2015 in Hilversum. The idea came up to organize the Barefoot event because of a question asked by Ruth Langemeijer (a barefoot runner from Amsterdam). She asked us why the Barefoot congress was canceled that year in Tilburg. We arranged a first meeting and then it all started. The 2015 (first) edition was a great success and all participants gave us a lot of positive feedback to continue and make it an annual event . I give all credits to Ruth the way she organized it and lead us during the preparations before the event, scanning trainers, looking for a suitable location etc.

(Editors note: the 2016 edition will be on april 10th in the Dudok Arena in Hilversum)

Is there anything that you would like to add?

My advice to any runner would be: Give it a chance. Look at it as a new sport for your body. Picture your self a roadrunner which suddenly discovers the trail running scene. This asks for a new training technique, other parts of the body need to be trained. Our beginners guideline (Dutch) helps you to make the transition in an easy way.

Anyones - Van
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