Mr Bata, R.I.P

Thomas Bata, the patriarch of one of the world’s largest family-owned business empires, died in a Toronto hospital Monday. He was 93.Bata, who fled to Canada ahead of the Nazi invasion of his native Czechoslovakia in 1939, ran the shoe-manufacturing company that bears his family name out of its Toronto headquarters for more than four decades overseeing its growth into a multinational organization that serves more than a million customers a day.

Bata shoe empire magnate dies in Toronto
Thomas Bata inherited his father's shoe company in 1932. This man’s shoe company store was the place of pilgrimage every year for new school shoes and/or sneakers. I did not know he lived here, and ran his business out of Toronto. Bata was one of earliest brands I can remember, they were the only shoe in town when I was growing up. Bata’s brand has been overtaken on the cool factor points by the Nikes and Adidases of the world. But the last time I was in Chennai, I did find time to go to a Bata and buy a pair of sandals. The shopping experience was out of my childhood, the dusty no airconditioned store, the salespeople hanging around doing nothing much, chaos of unorganized shoes. There were some differences, they actually had a sale section! Anyway, when I was standing in line waiting to pay for the sandals, the guy sho sold them to me asked me if I could fill out a survey, and if I could please, if I didn’t mind, write in the comments section that the store needed air conditioning?? I sure did, because I was there 20 minutes in March, he was going to be there 10 hours a day through the summer.

Anyway, that was my last experience at a Bata’s. His stores are still the place to go for millions of people in small town India and even in the big cities. The stores could use a little bit of sprucing up (and some air conditioning), but the brand is still very strong.