Realtor Debbie Klatt ruined dozens of pairs of stylish shoes driving around town.
"The shoes were perfect in every way, but I always had scuff marks from the back of the heel rubbing against the car mat when I used the brake and gas pedals," says Klatt, 55, of Tampa. "I have these beautiful shoes, and they're all scuffed up.
"I began noticing other women's shoes had the same damage. And when I asked my friends and relatives about it, they were having the same problem."
Klatt and her best friend, Gia Yee-Lozicki, a 46-year-old mother of three, were inspired to create Shoe Angels, small, reusable pieces of transparent vinyl that protect pumps, sandals, wedges and even flip-flops without altering the appearance of the shoes.
Shoe Angels come in two shapes: a crescent shape that protects the back of shoes at the heel and an oval shape that adheres to the bottom of pointy high heels. You simply peel off the backing and stick them to your shoes. They work by providing a barrier between your shoe and the floor mat of the car.
It took about a year for the women to come up with the right combination of protection.
"We kept trying every conceivable type of material," Klatt says. "We tried gels, foams, fabrics - whatever we could find. But we found the best thing was the thin, flexible vinyl and a special adhesive that releases without damaging the shoe or leaving any residue on the shoe."
Shoe Angels are sold online. The deluxe package - seven crescent- and seven oval-shaped protectors - sells for $19.95 and comes with a stainless carrying case that doubles as a business card holder. Refills are $7.95 for 30 Shoe Angels; 15 in each shape.
For information, go to: www.myshoeangels.com
Second-hand shop reopens this week
I'm a thrift store enthusiast, so of course I have my list of favorites. One of them is the St. John's Presbyterian Thrift store.
Recently, the store closed for more than a month so the staff could sort and stock new donations. And talk about bargains! They have ladies casual dresses, dressy dresses, wedding dresses, blouses, sweaters, shoes, boots, jewelry, scarves and lots of other items in absolutely perfect condition. The prices are set around $2 for a blouse, $4 for a skirt and around $6 for a dress, depending on the style.
I once walked out of there with a sundress, necklace, earrings and scarf for less than $15. I was so proud of myself.
The store is also bringing back $5 bag-it days. Every first Monday of the month, you can buy a bag for $5 and fill it with everything you possibly can. And you can fit a lot into the bags.
The shop also carries men's clothes; clothes for infants and children; and lots of housewares, including dishes, picture frames, and pots and pans.
The thrift store was started in 2005 by 35 women who attend the church, and sales support the church. The shop also provides clothing and other items to church outreach programs.
The thrift store is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It's located inside the atrium of St. John's Presbyterian Church at 4120 N. MacDill Ave. The entrance is a bit hidden, but it's worth looking.
No elbowing me out of the way to get to the bargains, though. There's enough for everybody.