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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Entrepreneurs: Shoe storage product lands Walmart slot

West One Products


Walmart’s Open Call


A closet full of shoes? Plenty of people have that problem and Fort Worth’s Robert Liang has a solution: Shoe Pal.

His space-saving product takes a single pair of shoes – even high heels – and stacks one on top of the other without squeezing or crushing them, separated by a platform that locks into place to secure both.

And now shoppers can get Shoe Pal at many of their neighborhood Walmarts after it was selected through the company’s annual Open Call event.

The next Open Call is scheduled for June 13 in Bentonville, Arkansas. It is the fifth year for the event, which began in 2013 as a way to help boost jobs and manufacturing by buying an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs over a decade.

“I met with Walmart buyer Vincent Keenan in 2016 at the American Jobs Open Call in June,” Liang said. “Vincent included our Shoe Pal in his 2018 procurement, and it was first put into 437 Supercenters, including one in Hawaii on April 23, and has increased into 550 stores since.”

Shoe Pal is a product of Liang’s company, West One, a manufacturer and importer/distributor of innovative consumer goods designed to meet the needs of everyday life.

Liang, an immigrant from Taiwan, got the idea for Shoe Pal because space is often at a premium in Asian homes. He developed the Shoe Pal in 2012 in Taiwan and later expanded to the United States.

“Home space is limited in most of the Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan. We had the needs of the consumers in mind that Shoe Pal taps into the small-space markets, is adjustable to fit most of the standard shoe sizes, doubles available space for shoes without taking up hanging closet space or precious closet wall space, is secure for storing high heels and so on,” he said.

“Shoe Pal has been selling very well in Japan, Korea and Taiwan for years. It was my idea to produce Shoe Pal in the U.S. and sell it in the U.S.”

Shoe Pal sells for $8.88 per four-pack.

“I am excited to be a Walmart supplier,” said Liang. “They welcomed our product and have been most encouraging throughout the process of getting products into their stores. [Our buyer] and his team are tremendous. They made the process understandable and made sure we would successfully meet their deadlines.”

Liang isn’t the first Fort Worth resident to get a product into Walmart after meeting with a Walmart representative. Others include Melissa Mehall of Fort Worth, who teamed with friend Melissa Blue to start Meli’s Monster Cookies. They met with a Walmart representative as a follow-up after attending the Fancy Food Show.

The Open Call has helped entrepreneurs of all ages, such as 12-year-old Alina Morse of Michigan. She landed her ZolliPops on the shelves of over 4,500 Walmart locations.

“Walmart’s Open Call and the opportunity to have our products in Walmart stores changed the trajectory of our business,” said Meghna Saldhi of Dallas-based Curries by Nature, a business that specializes in authentic Indian simmer sauces and is in nearly 500 stores.

Liang and his family moved to the United States in 2003, settling in Fort Worth on the advice of a friend. He founded West One in December 2004.

Other West One products include Kool Touch Microwave Bowl Set, New Skin Thermal Undershirt, Super Soft Thirsty Towels and Magic Cloth Cleaning Mitt.

New products he is working to get into Walmart include Foldable Wing Hanger, a hanger on which to keep clothes without stretching the neck and that can also handle heavy loads with up to 10 additional hangers; Dressbook, a clothes organizer to save up to six times the space; and a portable, reusable trash receptacle that is air-tight, water-tight, and can be used in the car, on the beach, hiking, walking your dog, boating and more.

As for what lies ahead for Liang and his company, he said, “As a Walmart supplier, it is a great opportunity for West One to grow and create jobs here in Fort Worth.”

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