There is a saying in Key West that if you take home sand in your shoes, it’s a good indication that you’ll return. So, if you take home sandals that are made in Key West, what could that mean?
A large part of the history of Key West is its connection to Cuba, with another proud local saying that they are closer to Cuba than a Walmart.
Roberto “Kino” Lopez and his family left Cuba for a new life in the US after saving enough money to start a sandal factory in Key West. The Kino Plaza building where they are located is similar to the Cuban style buildings Kino knew as a youth in Cuba.
He grew up in Cienfuegos, Cuba, about 100 miles south of Havana. The high ceilings let hot air drift outside while keeping the tile floors cool. The garden in the atrium offers shoppers a shaded area allowing for relaxation in the local summer breezes. They have expanded their range from 17 to 20 sandal styles, plus wallets, purses and passport covers. Ask any local, not if they own a pair of Kino’s sandals, but how many do they own. It’s a true Key West classic to take home or the perfect gift for family and friends.
All original designs, the durable sandals are made with natural leather uppers and natural rubber soles, they are all hand cut, assembled and glued in the traditional sandal factory since 1966. The basic difference is that Kino uses traditional hand-made techniques to assemble his sandals, and that craftsman talent cannot be duplicated by a machine.