When Pat Yates, President of Louisville-based NJD Specialty Retail, Inc., the creator of Happy Feet, bought the house slipper distribution business from his father nearly 10 years ago, he had big ideas for the company. Those ideas have led him to the feet of MTV’s Jersey Shore star, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.
You may have first seen the oversized house slippers (that look like soft athletic sneakers) at one of Louisville’s shopping malls as you did your holiday shopping. Kiosks full of colorful slippers, sport-themed slippers and plush animal head slippers have been a holiday tradition in Louisville-area malls for over fifteen years. But now the comfy shoes are popping up on national television programs since Snooki became Happy Feet’s spokesperson last October. In fact, if you’re a viewer of ABC’s Bachelor Pad on Monday nights, you may have noticed the pink and white sneaker-style slippers on the feet of more than one of the female contestants.
NJD Specialty Retail, Inc. sells and distributes its slippers through its website Buyhappyfeet.com and through franchises, typically located at mall kiosks. When Yates’ father decided to sell the business in 2002 it was a natural decision for Yates to purchase it.
“I was already involved in the business,” said Yates. “I made him [original owner Chet Yates] an offer and took it over because I sort of looked at the business and thought it had much more potential than what they were getting out of it,” he continued.