Pricing Transparency

We often have questions from customers regarding the price of our shoes and why they cost the amount they do. In this blog, we’re going to unveil how we price our shoes and highlight what it’s like ordering from us versus ordering directly from the brand. 

Here’s a quick cost breakdown example:

Wholesale cost for retailer


Shipping into Canada


Import duties, taxes and fees


Employee wages


Operations overhead (i.e. rent, utilities, website, POS, merchant fees, etc.)


Additional capital to grow inventory and bring in new shoes


Total (Retail Price)



As you can see, a good portion of the cost goes toward getting the shoes into Canada from the States and Europe, which includes import duties and taxes. Another portion of the cost goes into maintaining our business, including things like rent and merchant fees.

We also have a growing team to help buttress our growing business and we try to give everyone fair wages. At the end, we have around a ~5% margin left that we use to put back into our business and to test new shoes. 

Straight off the bat you can see that even wholesale prices for minimal shoes start out higher than the retail prices of some conventional shoes. The reasons for this range from material costs and ethical labour costs to the cost of producing a non-standard shoe. 

Manufacturers need specialized equipment to make barefoot shoes such as foot-shaped lasts (the model of a foot each shoe is made on) that have to be made custom compared to the standard equipment that many conventional shoes are made with.

In addition, our brands are not manufacturing in the same bulk quantities as household name conventional brands likely are, so at the moment even our community’s global brands can’t compete for pricing with titans of the overall shoe industry.

For a thorough and detailed breakdown of the costs of manufacturing barefoot shoes, check out Anya’s article where she talks to different minimal shoe brands from around the world about the real world numbers going into making their shoes! It’s so well researched. 

Ordering from CEM vs. Ordering Directly

Another question we get often is: why the difference between your price and the supplier’s website’s price (particularly Xero and Lems)? 

Lems US website:

Cool East Market website:


We often see people asking why the shoes are so much cheaper on Xero's or Lems’s website. A lot of the time, the prices on those websites are in USD. So there should first be a conversion made to CAD. On top of that, we also have to ship them into Canada and that cost includes import fees. 

When you are buying directly from the supplier, do keep in mind that there will be customs and duty fees when having them shipped across the border. 

The duties for Canadians purchasing directly from Xero and Lems are 20%, as they are not made in North America. Add in your shipping costs and we hear reports frequently that it’s $50-100 more expensive to buy directly.

Part of our mission is to make barefoot and minimal shoes more accessible to Canadians, which is why we keep our margins as low as we can. However, we don’t carry every style from every brand we work with, so these are good numbers to know if you are looking for an item we’ve decided not to carry.

We’re still happy to advise you on sizing before you order directly if we have experience with the model you’re looking at, as they don’t always offer international returns.

The brands we carry do have occasional sales, which is probably the only time it might be more cost efficient to order from them directly. We don’t as a rule offer price matching for those sales, as our suppliers don’t have to account for overhead in the same way a retailer does. But we are happy to let folks who are shopping know about sales; we want you to get a good deal, too!

Just watch out for scam websites! They do come up from time to time, often with deliberately mis-spelled brand names, or brand names followed by Canada, like Lens Canada dot com, for example. If you see deals that look too good to be true, feel free to send us a link and we can help you figure out if it’s a legitimate website.