About Kino Sandals
"A pair of once-wealthy Cuban refugees are operating on elbow grease, freedom, and a shoe string budget to pave the way for a new life in America." - the Miami Herald, April 27th, 1966
Founded by Cuban Immigrants
These Cuban immigrants were Roberto and Margarita Lopez and the business venture was KINO SANDALS. The company's name was Mr. Lopez's childhood nickname when he lived in Cienfuegos, Cuba, about 100 miles south of Havana. The founder, Roberto "Kino" Lopez, brought a skill and ambition with him when he fled Cuba one year after Castro's revolution.
In Cuba, Kino had a shoe factory. When he arrived in Key West, he had left shoemaking behind and worked as a handyman for four years. However, he had ambitions and goals. During these four years he saved his money and got a small business loan. He opened the doors of KINO SANDALS in 1966.
Original Shop on Whitehead Street
The original location was a shop rented at 105 Whitehead Street, where the factory spent its first 10 years. In 1976 KINO SANDALS moved to its current location at Kino Plaza. This building is reminiscent of the Cuban style buildings Kino knew as a youth in Cuba. The unusually high ceilings let hot air drift outside while keeping the terra-cotta tiled floors cool. The garden in the atrium offers shoppers a pleasantly shaded area that allows for relaxation in Key West's balmy summer breezes. The plaza is located at the corner of Greene Street and Fitzpatrick Street.
All of the sandals are handmade using natural leather straps and natural rubber soles. The are assembled and glued in our traditional sandal factory where the "sandaleros", the old-world sandal maker, works diligently at his station. In the aisles around the sandaleros you will see boxes of unfinished sandals as they move through the different stages of manufacture. The smell of leather permeates the room where you may select from a wide variety of sandals with your particular size and color range.
Versatile and Inexpensive Sandals
The popular and durable sandals are original designs by Kino. They are all versatile and inexpensive. They have been widely imitated, but they have never been duplicated. The fundamental difference is that Kino uses the traditional hand made techniques to assemble his sandals. The talent of the craftsmen can not be replaced by a machine. It is this uncommon effort that distinguishes this product.
In 2006 Kino Sandal celebrated their 40th Anniversary. Mr. and Mrs. Lopez were proud of the fact that for the last 20 years the company was administered by their three children- Robert Lopez, Ana Lopez Sariego and Christina Lopez Ruiz. The second generation played a major role in evolving the company through the closing of many USA shoe manufacturers/ suppliers. We are proud of the fact that kino Sandals are still made in the USA.
New Family Legacy
Now in 2011 we continue the Kino legacy with the third generation joining in. The Kino family is proud to announce the new Kino Sandal web site, offering the sandals to those who have never visited our factory in the beautiful island of Key West.
Mrs. Kino Margot Lopez along with the entire Kino family wish to express our sincere appreciation for your patronage. We hope you will visit us in the future so that we may serve you again.