October 23, 2014

Elyria
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Fans of Crocs shoes loyal, regardless of escalating issues

Even at the young age of 2, Kaila Ann Kocsis is a quite the fashionista.

She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to say it. And what she normally wants are her Crocs. The soft-soled shoes have grown in popularity from foot attire for the gardener or boater to must-haves for the whole family since their debut several years ago.

JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
Crocs, a popular shoe that has been implicated in several children’s injuries on escalators, are seen at Petitti Garden Center in Avon Lake.

Kaila Ann has two pairs: one yellow and one pink. At least one pair is always on her little feet, as was the case Wednesday, when she put on her pink pair for a romp at the playground in Cascade Park.

This was despite reports that the shoes pose a danger to little feet. Recently, it has been reported that little toes swathed in Crocs (and the plethora of knock-offs out there) can become entrapped in escalators — a boy recently suffered an injured toe when it happened to him. 

But word of the injuries wasn’t common knowledge to those interviewed Wednesday by The Chronicle.
And they didn’t seem to raise too much of a concern because they themselves hadn’t had any problems.

“You don’t dare tell her she can’t wear them,” said grandmother LeeAnn Kocsis of Amherst. “She loves those things, emphasis on love.”

Kocsis said her granddaughter donned her first pair of Crocs early in the spring when the weather was still too cold for feet exposed to the elements. She wore socks with them.

They have not had any problems with the shoes aside from the occasional stick or pebble wedged in the holes, Kocsis said.

This is contrary to many reports from around the world that cite Crocs in incidents involving injuring on moving stairways.

According to reports appearing across the United States and as far away as Singapore and Japan, entrapments occur because of two of the biggest selling points of shoes like Crocs: their flexibility and grip. Some report the shoes get caught in the “teeth” at the bottom or top of the escalator, or in the crack between the steps and the side of the escalator.

In Singapore, a 2-year-old girl wearing rubber clogs — it’s unclear what brand — had her big toe completely ripped off in an escalator accident last year, according to local media reports.

And at an Atlanta airport, a 3-year-old boy wearing Crocs suffered a deep gash across the top of his toes in June. That was one of seven shoe entrapments at the airport since May 1, and all but two of them involved Crocs, said Roy Springer, operations manager for the company that runs the airport terminal.

One U.S. retailer that caters to children, Mattel subsidiary American Girl, has posted signs in three locations directing customers wearing Crocs or flip-flop sandals to use elevators instead of escalators.

During the past two years, so-called “shoe entrapments” in the Washington subway have gone from being relatively rare to happening four or five times a week in the summer, though none has caused serious injuries, said Dave Lacosse, who oversees the subway’s 588 escalators, the most of any U.S. transit system.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has not issued any safety alerts about the shoes.

Kocsis clads her own feet in a pair of Crocs, so she understands her granddaughter’s attachment to them. They were a gift from her son, who sought to buy his mother a comfortable pair of shoes.

“I need comfy shoes because I am going to have foot surgery and let me tell you, these are really comfy,” she said. “I wear them all the time, even when I’m water meter reading in the city once a month. That’s a lot of walking, and my feet don’t bother me at all when I wear my Crocs.”

Getting 2-year-old Caitlyn and 3-year-old Brooklyn to want to wear anything else but their Crocs is hard, said mother Sandy Underwood of Elyria. The toddlers love the independence they afford, being able to slip them on and off without the aid of mom or dad.

The only real concern came when 2-year-old Caitlyn tried to put the shoe’s charms — which can be purchased separately to jazz up the soft-soled shoes — into her mouth. No big deal, Underwood said.

“We just took the charms away and everything was fine,” she said.

Underwood said her children haven’t experienced any falls or accidents while wearing Crocs. They were gifts from an aunt in Maryland and Underwood said since getting that first pair, she has been scouring local stores for another pair.

She hasn’t had any luck; however a store manager at Petitti Garden Center in Avon said Crocs have been a staple of the Home Accent department since the store opened in March. The children’s sizes retail for about $29.99 and have been popular since they debuted.

The shoes are great for gardeners — a simple scrub cleans away any remnants of dirt. The shoes initially were made for use in boating and the outdoors because of the slip-resistant, non-marking sole, according to the company history on its Web site.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.